Peer Reviews Improve Product Quality and Project Delivery

Shock! They actually work!

Peer reviews are an effective tool to improve the quality of deliverables – be they documents, code, tests, presentations, etc.  Yet they are still not used in many companies.

Why not?

  • People don’t have the “time”
  • They’ve never been trained
  • Staff see them as form filling and too much bureaucracy
  • The reviews have been over-engineered with automated workflow systems
  • People don’t like being reviewed
  • They’re seen as taking too long and as a nice-to-have
  • And many other reasons

So how to (re)start things?

1. Keep it simple – start with a document that you’re currently preparing.  Rather than just emailing it to some colleagues for comment, gather a few stakeholders into a room for 30 minutes.  Too short you say?  Not if you want their attention.  Reviews which last 3-4 hours are just too long to be effective.

2. Bring donuts

3. Make sure everyone knows why they are there:

a) to review the document to find weaknesses and defects

b) to share information and ideas

Often 3b) adds more value to a project or business than the defects found in the review.

4. Correct the document and let people know how valuable their contributions have been

5. Figure out the ROI:

Add the effort for the review (4 people x 30 mins) and the effort to correct

Multiply this by 20 – an average cost to fix if the defects had not been found till later in the project (probably higher if a customer had found it)

Show the cost of review + fix versus potential problem to the team

6. Get someone else (who was a reviewer) to do the next review

By keeping it simple, you don’t need to collect unnecessary data (metrics etc) and can focus on the business of getting things done.

Once you’ve done a few, try a form – and see if the structure if suitable to your company’s environment.  (you can get one from our downloads page)

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This entry was posted in CMMI, defects, improvement, ISO9001, KPI, method, metrics, organization change, peer reviews, people, problems, process improvement, product quality, project management, ROI, software quality, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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