Inspections Prevent Software Defects – So Why Don’t You Do Them?
Develop | Posted November 28, 2011

Why don’t more companies do inspections?  Even industry thought leaders are asking this question. In Capers Jones’ new article, “Do You Inspect?” Capers and Olivier Bonsignour pose this question. Their research shows that while about 35% of organizations involved in developing defense, systems and embedded applications do inspections, but only about 10% of those developing commercial, Web and IT applications perform them.


Capers and Olivier surmise that companies aren’t focusing on inspections, partly because software tools vendors are not actively marketing the concept of “inspections.”   What is being marketed, they say, are the static analysis solutions.  Their studies show that though static analysis solutions have “about the same level of defect-removal efficiency” as formal inspections, they are able to identify only a narrow range of code-related defects.  It is our belief that human inspections are significantly more beneficial than the “narrow band” static analysis tools, because human reviewers can understand software components within context as they apply code review principals to development artifacts. Humans can understand product goals, product design and the technologies required to implement them. They can also interact with colleagues to answer queries.  Static analysis tools cannot apply such insight to their analysis.


Why the aversion to formal code inspections? Developers often have the mental images that they have to suffer through painfully long and meandering code review meetings to ensure code quality. At SmartBear, our mission is to remove the pain from all quality processes so that our customers find their experiences to be easier and much more fun, which means that they are much more likely to follow the process.  When developers use code review tools to automate their review process, they can spend more time reviewing artifacts and not waste time in unproductive meetings. Automated tools make the process simpler, more collaborative, and less painful.


Performing code reviews is an important activity for organizations wanting to identify and resolve defects closer to their point of injection. A multitude of studies demonstrate that finding defects earlier in the development cycle can save up to 100 times the cost of customers finding them. Add to that the productivity gain that developers receive when they are focused on development activities rather than on bug fixing activities and you’re sure to see that code reviews are a proven way to improve software quality dramatically and in an efficient manner. Learn more about our code review tool, CodeCollaborator, and how it can help your team experience fast and easy code reviews while substantially improving software quality by reducing defects.


Upcoming Webinar with Capers Jones


Register here for our Webinar on December 6 at 1:00 p.m. ET with Capers Jones, The State of Software Quality in 2011, and learn about the 8 software quality metrics that matter!


Read Capers’ Do You Inspect? article on Dr. Dobb's that hits the print edition in InformationWeek today.


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