Software Reviews as Training

Oct 13th, 2002 by Tony in QSM2

In addition to all the other benefits, reviews teach while testing. Review participants learn about a number of things that are important to their development as software engineering professionals. First and most obvious, they learn about technical issues. They learn about various languages, tools and techniques. Learning in reviews is much cheaper than learning in formal classes, and is also more immediately relevant to the task at hand.

Participants also learn the specific product under review, which provides a much more secure base for project completion. If someone leaves or is needed in another task, anyone who has reviewed the project has a heard start on taking over.

They also learn about reviewing. Reviews are usually rather clumsy at first, but even without outside help, reviewers soon learn to do a much more efficient and effective job.

Less obviously, review participants learn about themselves. They learn just how good they are compared to others. This learning takes place without anyone being insulted or embarrassed, but helps people know what they can handle and what they cannot, as yet.

Participants also learn how much they have to learn, and what that is specifically. People who participate in reviews not only learn more effectively than those who participate in classes, they also make better use of those classes they do take, because they know what they need to know.

Finally, review participants learn about others in the review. They learn who is working on what, which develops a project consciousness and improves the efficiency of the informal communication system. They also learn who knows how to do what, so that when they have a future problem, they more quickly reach the person who can help them solve it.

Thus, although the review seems to be directed at the product, its major effect in the long run is on the process.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 2, Chapter 18

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