My friend and colleague from Colombia, Patricia Osorio, asks the following question:
Could you please help me with the following question? Is it right to say the order of reviews according its formality – from most formal to less formal is: inspection, walkthrough, technical review and informal review? When I had read foundation level syllabus to present the exam (2005) it was very clear. Now, when I reread the foundation level syllabus in its version 2010, it seems to me that It has changed to inspection, technical review, walkthrough and informal review.
Patricia Osorio Aristizabal
Patricia, the latest version of the Foundation syllabus is 2011, but I think the text is much the same as the 2010 version. I have checked some of the previous versions of the syllabus, and can’t find any explicit mention of the spectrum of formality.
I believe this idea of the spectrum of formality (informal, technical review, walkthrough, inspection) comes from IEEE 1028. In that standard, metrics and review-based process improvement are not specified for the technical review, and they are for walkthroughs and inspections. So, this makes the technical review less formal. The inspection is more formal than a walkthrough due to the separation of moderator and author.
This leads to an interesting question: Does this spectrum of formality actually matter in the real world? In my experience, it really doesn’t. Here’s why I say that. Most companies don’t do reviews, or at least don’t do them anywhere near as often and as thoroughly as they should. So, when I’m talking to a client about doing reviews, I don’t get into the issue of what level of formality. Instead, my focus is on motivating them to start doing more reviews and doing them better. I can’t remember working with any clients where the main problem they had with reviews was that they weren’t using the right level of formality.
The other reason this doesn’t matter much is because of the naming issue. People use the terms “review,” “technical review,” “inspection,” “JAD session,” “walkthrough,” and more, and whenever I hear those terms I ask people to tell me, specifically, what such an event is, who is involved, what the process is, and–if people mention more than one type of review–what the differences are. I very rarely get clear answers to those questions, which tells me that any particular session where people sit down to discuss a work product could have any one of a dozen or so different names attached to it.
Personally I don’t see this as a problem to worry about. I’m more worried about whether my clients are doing reviews, regularly and with good benefit, than with what they call it.