search menu icon-carat-right cmu-wordmark

Common System and Software Testing Pitfalls

This presentation discusses a taxonomy of 167 testing anti-patterns that the author analyzed and fully documented, describing each pitfall and providing recommendations for avoiding them and mitigating their harm.

Software Engineering Institute


In spite of many great testing “how-to” books, the people involved with system and software testing (such as testers, requirements engineers, system/software architects, system/software engineers, technical leaders, managers, and customers) continually make many different types of testing-related mistakes. These commonly occurring human errors can be thought of as system and software testing pitfalls, and when projects unwittingly fall into them, these pitfalls make testing less effective at uncovering defects, make people less productive at performing testing, and harm project morale. Donald Firesmith has created a repository of 167 of these testing anti-patterns, analyzed and organized them into a taxonomy consisting of 23 categories, and documented each pitfall in terms of its name, description, potential applicability, characteristic symptoms, potential negative consequences, potential causes, recommendations for avoiding it and mitigating its harm, and related pitfalls. This presentation builds on Firesmith’s book by the same name, which documented 92 pitfalls in 14 categories.

This content was created for a conference series or symposium and does not necessarily reflect the positions and views of the Software Engineering Institute.