All code is guilty until proven innocent.
Do you know that the cost of a defect increases by an order of magnitude for each consecutive stage of the software development cycle?
This means that discovering bugs earlier can significantly save money in terms of the effort of the technical teams and can lead to better ROI. Moreover, once issues are allowed to reach the production stage, they become more difficult to diagnose and solve.
In order to execute the project on time and within budget, preventing errors is better than fixing them. One great asset in identifying issues early on is a rigorous code review process. Code Review is the practice of systematically convening with one’s fellow programmers to check each other’s code for defects and has been shown to boost code quality and streamline the software development process. Moreover, it is also a great way to facilitate cross-training, mentoring, and learning among developers.
Coding Sans’s State of Software Development in 2018 report highlighted that 67.66% of software developers utilized peer code review to safeguard code quality. Additionally, that percentage is even higher among successful software developers; 73.53% of the top developers employ this practice. Despite its virtues, many people still often turn a blind eye to peer code reviews as they perceive performance testing to be adequate for validation. However, neglecting code reviewing can result in severe consequences for your project delivery.
So why are code reviews critical in executing software development smoothly? Here are four ways in which peer code reviews can add value to your IT project:
Code reviews promise high quality as issues and errors are resolved before they skyrocket out of control. These inspections build quality into your process with excellent ROI and can reduce defects in your code by around 80%. Reviews also bring about consistency in meeting coding standards and project requirements. It improves the quality of code by concentrating on readability, maintainability, complexity, performance, and duplicated code.
Any discussion and collaboration on code will inherently improve readability. Also, a comprehensive review process will result in the style of code becoming similar in the team. This code standardization will provide for enhanced readability with superior support and maintenance. Developers also bring in their A-game and are more likely to write clean and concise code if they're aware that their co-workers would be reviewing it.
All projects have unwritten rules and implicit understandings often referred to as “institutional” or “tribal” knowledge. Code review can facilitate the transfer of this knowledge from an expert professional to a new team member. This knowledge-sharing between team encourages internal learning and presents opportunities for mentoring junior team members. With the mentor directly reviewing his junior’s work but the junior developer examining the senior’s code, junior team members’ progress will be accelerated.
Collaboration between developers along with code standardization will bolster team productivity. This will reduce schedule delays if a team member is unavailable as any developer can take up the reins and continue steering the ship. Good reviews also encourage the development of T-shape professionals. These are individuals who are specialists in one area but have enough knowledge in the other domains to assist the continuous flow of the software development process.
Code reviews also take into account whether the code has well-designed automated tests or not. Moreover, optimizing code and consistently meeting standards will bear fruit in the form of a source code that is easier to understand for testers and specialists. Also, discovering bugs early on will help save time and money as there will be fewer delays in development due to further testing and revisions.
When the QA team gets involved in the code reviewing process, both the programming knowledge of quality analysts and the communication between teams will be improved significantly. Testers will know what part of the code defines a particular functionality of the project, therefore strengthening teamwork.
Every software project starts with a well-defined scope and requirements. There's a high chance of a developer misinterpreting one of these requirements and creating a useless feature. An effective code review process will validate the developed feature against the expected one. This verifies developed features and guarantees that all misinterpretations associated with the project scope or requirements are addressed at the earliest.
Employing a consistent coding pattern and better documentation under code reviewing will make it convenient for developers to analyze existing code. This will help the project stay on track as developers will be spending more time adding features or upgrading existing ones. Also, this will benefit in the long run as well as it will be easier to onboard new developers to the project. Technical collaboration via code reviews also results in better estimates and project planning.
Overall, the peer code review process remains a critical stage in the software development lifecycle and can play a key role in enhancing the quality of code, team collaboration, and project delivery. When done right, it is a great tool to not only streamline development but also reduce the effort needed by the development team. Moreover, software testing alone has limited efficacy in defect detection. In his book, Code Complete, Steve McConnel reports that the average bug detection rate is 25% for unit testing, 35% for function testing, and 45% for integration testing. In comparison, design and code inspections have an average defect detection rate of 55% and 60%. These reviews are also crucial in establishing consistency in the source code and enabling superior testing and smoother integration. By mitigating errors, code reviews ensure the delivery of high-value solutions to clients on budget and time.
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