Reviews and Inspections

Formal Inspection was pioneered in the seventies by M.E. Fagan at IBM. He published about it in IBM Systems Journal in 1976: Vol 38, nr. 2&3 (Turning Points in Computing 1962~1999): Design and code inspections to reduce errors in program development (.pdf; 1.5Mb). Since then, a lot of experience has been gained on the techniques of Inspections. NASA has a very useful "Software Formal Inspections Guidebook" and a "Software Formal Inspections Standard". A very useful guide to Inspections (with a big I) is the book by Tom Gilb en Dorothy Graham "Software Inspection" (1993). The word "Software" could have been omitted: Inspections are by no means limited to software. Without the "software" the book would however not sell as well and let's be frank, in the field of software, Inspections are probably most needed. The authors cover in great detail all steps which make the Inspection process so valuable. Some chapters describe the experience of Inspection in various organisations. After having read this book, you will ask yourself how you ever could have done without Inspections. The question is not any more whether Inspections should become a standard part of your development process, nor when. Only how. Answering this question with you is our job!

Invariably I have found that if we use the following sequence in any development activity, we will deliver better and faster: A great technique to move towards Zero Defects!
(see for example DesignLog-case#2)

  • Design, followed by Review (repeat as needed)
  • Implement/Code, followed by Review (repeat as needed)
  • V&V/Testing doesn't find issues
  • User doesn't find issues.

In the Gilb/Graham book you will find a complete set of forms for Inspections. You can order it from Amazon.com.

For a description of the Review/Inspection workshop, see the workshops page.

Latest versions of Inspection documents for Document Inspections:

Download 16-page Inspection Manual (pdf, 183 kb), V0.45
Download Inspection Master Plan (.doc, 47kb)
Download Data Summary, logging sheet, brainstorm sheet (.xls, 72 kb)
Download ReviewInspCourse (pdf, 2504 kb), as used at a client in October 2007

Early Inspections
Even where Tom and Dorothy introduced the "Economy of Inspections" in 1993, since then we have learnt a lot more, and nowadays we are using an even more light-weight process that can be used with many types of documents, producing even better results at even much less investment.