Success Factors for Reviews

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Executing reviews is not straightforward, as there is no one path to success and countless ways to fail. The suitable type of review and the techniques must be considered for a successful review. In addition, organizational and people-related factors influence the result of the review. Let's discuss both aspects in this article.

Organizational Success Factors

Organizational success factors for reviews include:

  • Define Clear Objective: Each review must have a clear objective defined during the review planning. This objective is also used as a measurable exit criterion.
  • Review Planning and Tracking: To ensure that reviews become part of the day-to-day activities, the hours spent should be visible within each project plan.
  • Use Suitable Review Types: Appropriate review types should be applied to achieve the objective. Also, applied review types should be relevant to the type and level of software work products and participants. 
  • Apply Appropriate Review Technique: Choose a suitable review technique, such as role-based or checklist-based, for effective defect identification in the work product to be reviewed. The selection of a proper review type and technique is most important to achieve the objective of the review and project. It does not make sense to review everything by inspection but rather map the review to the risk associated with the document. Some documents may require an informal review, and others require an inspection. 
  • Choose items that matter: Select the document for review essential in a project. Reviewing necessary documents like requirements and architecture will show the usefulness of the review process to the project.
  • Simple Process: Do not become too theoretical or too detailed. Follow the rules but keep them simple and modify them when required. Checklists and roles are recommended to increase the effectiveness of defect identification. Make the process as simple and formal as the project culture or maturity level allows.
  • Select Proper Checklist: Use up-to-date checklists, and checklists should address the main risks. 
    Review Large Documents in Chunks: Write and review large documents in small chunks. It is easy to exercise quality control and provide feedback to the author on defects when documents are small.
  • Adequate Preparation Time: Sufficient time should be given to participants for review preparation. 
  • Adequate Scheduled Time: Reviews must be scheduled with adequate notice.
  • Management Support: Management support is needed for the successful review process, for example, in incorporating sufficient time and resources for review activities in project schedules.
  • Incorporate Review Policy: Review should be integrated into company quality or test policy.
  • Report results: Report quantified results, including benefits and cost. Defects found are welcomed and expressed objectively, and the impact of defects should also be discussed on the project if they had not been found this early.
  • Continuously Improvement: In addition to defect findings, the focus should also be on learning and process improvement based on participants' feedback. Do review on time and start learning from every review. Continuous learning from executed reviews improves the review process. Experience people should observe and help to make the process better. 

People-Related Success Factors

  • Involvement of Right People:  People with the right skill set and different perspectives should be involved to meet the review objective. People may use the document as a work input.
  • Find a Process Leader: Select a Champion who will lead the process on a project or organizational level. The champion needs expertise, enthusiasm, and a practical mindset to guide moderators and participants. The authority of the champion should be clear to the entire organization.
  • Involve Testers in Review: Testers are valuable contributors to review. Testers can prepare early and effective tests by learning about the work products during the review.
  • Dedicated Participants: Participants must dedicate adequate time and attention to detail. Reviews should be conducted in small chunks so that reviewers do not lose attention during the review. 
  • Handling of Defects: Defects found by the reviewer should be acknowledged, appreciated, and handled objectively.
  • Well-Managed Meetings: Meetings should be well-managed. The participant should consider it a valuable use of their time. 
  • Do not Evaluate Participants: In review, we evaluate somebody else document. It is the moderator's responsibility to make sure reviews are not personal. Human and psychological factors have a strong impact on a review. The author of the reviewed document must have had a positive experience. The review is conducted in an environment of trust; the review results will not be used to evaluate the participants.
  • The behavior of Participants: Participants' behavior and body language might not indicate boredom, exasperation, or hostility toward other participants.
  • Participants' Training: It is essential that training is provided in review techniques, especially the more formal techniques, such as inspection. Otherwise, the process will likely be made difficult by those participants who do not understand the process and its sense. Special training should be given to the moderators to prepare them for their crucial role in the review process.
  • Positive Culture: A culture of learning and process improvement should be promoted, facilitating teamwork and open communication.