Code Review for CMMI: Reduce the Process Pain
Develop | Posted January 28, 2010

If your company is working to achieve CMMI level 3 or above, you probably already know that peer code reviews are required. They’re a really good idea anyway, but for CMMI (and a host of other environments, not to mention entire industries), you have to do them. And you have to provide proof that you did them, and then measure and continuously improve the results.

So how can you do peer code reviews without mountains of paperwork, tedious tracking, endless meetings, and other excruciating and inefficient tasks?

As a quick background for folks who aren’t doing the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) process models, they… 

  • Require peer code reviews as a means to improve software products 
  • Advocate the use of review data to improve the product creation process
  • Dictate that you measure and improve the return on investment (ROI) of reviews

Of course, the CMMI mandate to review code stands to reason: it’s much more efficient to find defects in the same cycle in which they are created, whether it’s requirements, design, coding, etc. And the Software Engineering Institute’s CMMI methodology is all about repeatable, measurable, efficient process that improves overall quality.

The necessary review process looks something like this:

  • Define a process and follow it consistently
  • Determine the process goals and decide what code review process you’re going to use
  • Assign roles to the participants
  • Conduct the reviews
  • Capture metrics about the review process
  • Conduct defect analysis, resolve defects, and resolve open issues
  • Document the review
  • Evaluate the review using the metrics you gathered, and use data to improve your overall software creation process.

Why on earth would you try to do all of these detailed tasks without software (like Collaborator, our code review tool) to help you automate the review creation, simplify communication, track results, and provide measurable data for reports?

A tool makes CMMI code reviews much easier and less painful than any other method:

  • You can configure the tool to collect the data so the engineers don’t have to be familiar with the CMMI peer review process, they just have to use the tools. The tool automatically enforces best practices and standardizes the process.
  • A tool gives direct proof that you’re following the prescribed process. Documented processes aren’t enough – tools provide a detailed audit trail to show that you actually did the work.
  • The tool automatically generates the measurements needed to continuously improve the process – details that are difficult to track manually like reviews conducted, defects found, and hours spent.
  • And of course, a tool like Code Collaborator automatically packages changed code for review, gives team members a quick way to communicate directly on the code itself, and lets you verify that bugs found are fixed… regardless of where team members are located.

Even if you’re not obligated to perform the rigorous CMMI requirements, you’ll still find a code review tool takes the pain out of code review and helps you improve software quality. Then your team can focus on something far more enjoyable… like writing code! 



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