I did a webinar for UTest.com today and got some great questions. One question seemed to really resonate: how do you keep good testers from moving to development.

I hear this question a lot. Many engineers see test as a training ground for development. A testing job is just a foot in the door for a quick move to development. Sigh.

Let’s be honest, this is not a bad thing. I think that the more developers we have trained as testers is categorically good. They’ll write fewer bugs, communicate with test better and generally appreciate the work their test teams do on their behalf. I think the real sadness comes from the fact that Test as a discipline loses so many talented people.

I am not convinced that the folks who leave are really doing so because of the developers’ greener pastures. After all, there is a lot of code to write as a tester and it’s often a freer coding atmosphere. I think people leave because too many test managers are stuck in the past and living just to ship. Everywhere I see testers move to development I see teams that lack a real innovative spirit and the converse is most certainly true. The happiest, most content testers are in groups that covet innovators and provide opportunity to invent, investigate and discover.

Want your testers to stay? Give them the opportunity to innovate. If all you see is test cases and ship schedules, all your testers will see is the door. Can’t say I blame them either.