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Common System and Software Testing Pitfalls: How to Prevent and Mitigate Them: Descriptions, Symptoms, Consequences, Causes, and Recommendations (SEI Series in Software Engineering) Paperback – December 29, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0133748550 ISBN-10: 0133748553 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: SEI Series in Software Engineering
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (December 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0133748553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0133748550
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Firesmith’s collection of actionable practices for real-world, non-trivial testing and the processes in which they’re applied is comprehensive and uniquely valuable. Nothing published about software testing in recent years provides anything like it.”

–Robert V. Binder,


“Don’s compilation of real-world testing problems, symptoms, and solutions is the most comprehensive available. You can use it early in your project to prevent these problems. Or you can use it at the end, as a ready list of costly lessons you could have avoided, had you used it early on. I’m afraid this book’s publication will undermine a lot of excuses for repeating these mistakes.”

–Vince Alcalde, National Australia Bank


“Excellent, Excellent, Excellent! This book should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in product development. Donald’s book addresses the pitfalls that need to be understood and allowed for in all product development verification and validation planning. While the focus of the book is on software projects, most of the pitfalls are equally applicable to any size project that involves both hardware and software.”

–Louis S. Wheatcraft, Requirements Experts Inc.


“The potential impact of this book cannot be overstressed. Software systems that are not adequately tested do not adequately evolve. I highly recommend this book as a must-read for people directly involved in the development and management of software- intensive systems.”

–Dr. Kenneth E. Nidiffer, Director of Strategic Plans for Government Programs, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University


Common System and Software Testing Pitfalls identifies realistic testing pitfalls. More importantly, it also identifies solutions for avoiding them on your next project. Every manager should read this book and follow the recommendations.”

–Barry Stanly, Enterprise Technology Alliance


“Whether you are a novice tester or a seasoned professional, you will find this book to be a valuable resource. The information on how to identify and prevent problem areas is clear, concise and, most importantly, actionable.”

–Allison Yeager, Blackbaud


“First of all, this is great material! It contains probably all of the testing problems I have faced in my career and some that I wasn’t aware of. . . . Thank you for the opportunity to read this superb material!”

–Alexandru Cosma, Frequentis


“As a tester, I consider Common System and Software Testing Pitfalls by Donald Firesmith to be a must-read book for all testers and QA engineers.”

–Thanh Huynh, LogiGear


“Your book provides very good insight and knowledge. After working in IT for over thirty years, and focusing on software testing the past thirteen years, I still learned more tips and best practices in software testing.”

–Tom Zalewski, Texas State Government


“This book is essential for the people in the cyber security business . . . I can see it becoming a classic. Don has done a great job.”

–Michael Hom, Compass360 Consulting


“Awesome work. Very mature.”

–Alejandro Salado, Kaiser, Threde Gmbh


“All in all, a great document.”

–Peter Bolin, Revolution IT Pty Ltd.


About the Author

Donald G. Firesmith is senior member of technical staff in the Software Solutions Division at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). There, he helps the U.S. Department of Defense and other agencies acquire large, complex, software-reliant systems. An internationally recognized software and systems engineering expert, he has published books on requirements engineering, architecture engineering, situational method engineering, testing, and object-oriented development.


More About the Author

Donald Firesmith is a Principal Engineer in the Software Solutions Division of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), where he helps the United States Military and other Governmental Agencies acquire large and complex software-reliant systems. He has 34 years of experience in both commercial and governmental software and systems development in numerous application domains that range from software applications and management information systems to embedded aviation and space systems. His primary areas of expertise include requirements engineering, system and software architecture engineering, object-oriented development, testing, quality engineering, and process improvement including situational method engineering.
Donald Firesmith has published dozens of technical articles, spoken at numerous international conferences, and has been the program chair or on the program committee of multiple conferences and workshops. He has taught several hundred courses in industry and numerous tutorials at conferences. These articles, presentations, and conference papers can be downloaded from his personal website. He is the developer of the OPEN Process Framework (OPF) Repository, the world's largest free open-source website documenting over 1,100 reusable system/software development method components. In his free time, he crafts magical wands as a hobby.

OPFRO website:
Personal website:
Feuerschmied's Wand Shoppe:

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave the Rave on March 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
If you do software testing, development or management, and need a catalog of all the types of problems you'll run into, this book would be worth your while. It lists about 100 recurring issues that come up, along with details on how to recognize them and what to do about them. I saw many familiar friends!
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Format: Paperback
This book presents a comprehensive list of 92 anti-patterns or pitfalls related to system and software testing. Each of the 92 pitfalls is then described in detail and includes, among other things, potential negative consequences, potential causes, and most importantly, recommendations.

Though it's a little unusual to start with describing pitfalls rather than the more traditional list of best practices, that perhaps is what differentiates this book from other similar books. It may work well for organizations that have suffered historically from particular pitfalls to put together an action plan based on recommendations.

Though the descriptions of some of the pitfalls may cater more to traditionalists rather than Agile purists, I gave the book 5 stars more for the volume of information and organized approach towards outlining potential issues. This will give development teams food for thought in how they can design a customer approach to optimize their quality processes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best practices are frequently mentioned, but bad practices (i.e. anti-patterns) are seldom listed. However there are many, and Mr Firesmith provides us with a long list of such anti-patterns.

I'm sure there are a number if other anti-patterns (contact him for access to online updates), and check which ones were present in your projects.
As with many such books, some of these suggested pitfalls may well be a minor problem for you and a large issue in other context, so adaptation, relevance and statistical impact may be variable, but ... it's a long list of things you should - at least - keep in mind.
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By Greg LeGore on March 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not an easy read, but a productive one. Use this to remind yourself, and your teammates, about the pitfalls to consider...just don't get too crazy and make everything a risk.
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