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)

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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