Making the Case for Review

By Austin Bingham

Software development is a young (some would say immature) profession, and a lot of what we do as software developers is guided by anecdotes, intuition, and received wisdom. The topic of reviews, however, is a bit different, and we've actually got a substantial body of research that tells us something important: reviews improve quality, reduce delivery time, and save money without slowing development teams down. Given what we know about the efficacy of reviews, it would be surprising to still find development organizations today that don't use them. Yet we do.

In this talk I'll present some of what we know about reviews. We'll look at questions like:

  • How long should a review be?
  • What kinds of artifacts can be usefully reviewed?
  • How is the time spent in reviews accounted for in terms of quality or ROI?

Some of the answers to these questions can be very eye-opening!

Along with the 'harder' economic and software-oriented benefits of reviews, I'll also spend some time looking at some of the social and team-oriented improvements they can provide. All of these elements build upon one another, of course, so it's useful to have high-level or holistic sense of what reviews can do for your organization.

Ultimately, my goal is to convince you that reviews probably should be part of your everyday development practices and to help you find the best ways to use them.