The different types of reviews vary from very informal (e.g. no written instructions for reviewers) to very formal (i.e. well structured and regulated). The formality of a review process is related to factors such as the maturity of the development process, any legal or regulatory requirements or the need for an audit trail.The way a review is carried out depends on the agreed objective of the review (e.g. find defects, gain understanding, or discussion and decision by consensus).
A typical formal review has the following main phases:
1. Planning: selecting the personnel, allocating roles; defining the entry and exit criteria for more formal review types (e.g. inspection); and selecting which parts of documents to look at.
2. Kick-off: distributing documents; explaining the objectives, process and documents to the participants; and checking entry criteria (for more formal review types).
3. Individual preparation: work done by each of the participants on their own before the review meeting, noting potential defects, questions and comments.
4. Review meeting: discussion or logging, with documented results or minutes (for more formal review types). The meeting participants may simply note defects, make recommendations for handling the defects, or make decisions about the defects.
5. Rework: fixing defects found, typically done by the author.
6. Follow-up: checking that defects have been addressed, gathering metrics and checking on exit criteria (for more formal review types).
A typical formal review will include the roles below:
Looking at documents from different perspectives and using checklists can make reviews more effective and efficient, for example, a checklist based on perspectives such as user, maintainer, tester or operations, or a checklist of typical requirements problems.
A single document may be the subject of more than one review. If more than one type of review is used, the order may vary. For example, an informal review may be carried out before a technical review, or an inspection may be carried out on a requirements specification before a walkthrough with customers. The main characteristics, options and purposes of common review types are:
Walkthroughs, technical reviews and inspections can be performed within a peer group - colleagues at the same organizational level. This type of review is called a “peer review”.
Success factors for reviews include: