Why Peer Review is a Critical Step in Software Development

  November 29, 2012

The benefits of code review are widely accepted as a quality improvement and control strategy. The development community now understands the impact of code review on overall software quality—the ability to identify and remediate errors and issues before the code is passed over to QA for testing. 

Peer review contributes a measure of quality control practices to software development by allowing teams to review their development artifacts early and often. The ability to review these documents easily and thoroughly is critical to ensuring that everyone is one the same page, especially important as teams grapple with last-minute customer demands and requirements changes. The extended development team needs to understand the impact of changing requirements on everything from development effort to task and release management. The consistent review of all development artifacts helps teams meet specified project and delivery goals.

Tool-assisted review makes peer review faster and less tedious


Tool-assisted peer review streamlines the process by eliminating scheduled meetings while making it easier to provide feedback on code and important technical documents. Tools, such as Collaborator, save time by allowing multiple reviewers to comment on and annotate the always-current document version, thereby eliminating the comment reconciliation step imposed by Microsoft Word and PDF review. 

Tools also can track document changes across versions so teams understand how the current document versions came to be. By giving team members the ability to collaborate on document and artifact development, tool-assisted peer review ensures mutual understanding of the end goal (i.e., the software to be built) and saves time, reduces risk, and adds tangible value.

Large IT Organizations Need to Do Peer Review


IT development organizations that focus on large-scale IT projects know this first hand! As they deal with the constraints presented by tight budgets, aggressive deadlines and constantly rotating staff, they consistently experience the development challenges exacerbated by geographically dispersed and virtual teams, the sporadic communication this fosters, and a lack of visibility and actionable insight into the current state of artifacts that fuel the development process. In these situations, the ability to review artifacts collaboratively breaks down these silos of isolation and helps everyone meet deadlines and budget objectives.

Types of artifacts that teams should review


There are a slew of documents and artifacts that underlie any development project. Even Agile teams rely on many of these document types to drive their sprints. Soliciting input and feedback from extended team members, such as developers, product managers and owners, quality assurance practitioners, support experts and technical communicators, increases the quality of the end product and reduces technical debt and rework.

Documents that benefit from peer review include:

  • Product Definition and Marketing Requirements Documents
  • Project Charter, Vision & Scope documents
  • Requirements and User Stories
  • Design documents
  • Project specifications
  • Verification plans
  • Test and Validation plans, Test Cases

To learn more about the current code review landscape, read our 2018 report.

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