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.
- 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)