Rediscovering the Obvious

…stumbling in the footsteps of greatness

Selling reviews

without comments


I believe in reviews. Code reviews, design reviews, architecture reviews, data model reviews, employee reviews, scenario/requirement reviews, UI reviews. Maybe you can tell from that that I’m not a HUGE XP fan.

But, I believe in reviews for a reason. I have 7 years of experience that shows me on both sides of the line that projects with a review culture go well, and projects without a review culture don’t go well. Projects that review most things go well, but the things that slip through have problems. I also know that projects with a review culture generally get to where 99% of reviews have no comments. How is this valuable if it almost never catches anything?

Well, it’s all about the culture. I believe there’s a number of factors that go into it, but I think it really boils down to a few core aspects:

  • People do better work if they know it will be looked at
  • People feel more collective ownership over the product
  • People’s output evolves towards a community standard

That said, the main benefits I get out of consistent reviews are:

  • Higher quality output
  • More consistent artifacts
  • Shorter development time (what!?!? Yes, it’s true)
  • More educated and empowered team members
  • Evidence (for CMMI, etc)
  • Clear local milestones

 and the constraints I impose to keep reviews effective are:

  • Minimal batch size – keep it short!
  • Standardized process – everybody knows how to do it
  • Optimized tools – make it easy to set up
  • Common reporting – all the results together (and reportable)
  • Expert Reviewer – primary reviewer is always the most qualified available individual
  • Required resolution – all raised issues are explicitly addressed

These things combine to make reviews very easy and effective… qualitatively justifying the needs I need.


Well, fast forward to my new job, and my pronouncement that “everything will be reviewed”. The two guys from Iowa went “ok”, and the two local developers went “ummm…. I guess…. but that will be the first thing to go if things get tight”. Now, that just hit me wrong. At the time, I explained that I was pretty firm about this, and that I felt it was more important to review during the crunch times. I then went on to explain more about the process I used for reviews and went through some of the information I typed above.

But… the verdict’s still out. I’m a salesperson now!




Written by erwilleke

March 5th, 2007 at 9:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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