Agile inspections: Save time, manage change

Emily Down | September 13, 2010

There’s always room for improvement in product and software development. And agile inspections (also known as peer review) can help improve your development process while saving your organization time and money.

Agile inspections provide serious benefits. It’s easy to imagine why, as fixing a defect is dramatically less expensive the earlier you catch it. According to Karl Wiegers, “a large German company found that a defect caught by testing cost 14.5 times as much to correct as did one found by formal inspection, while a defect discovered by a customer cost 68 times as much to fix.” He continues to explain, “the greatest leverage from time spent on software inspections comes from examining requirements documents, since correcting a bug this early in the game will save you the most money.” Beyond early removal of defects, inspection can also enable quality assessment in technical documents, process improvement, increased productivity, staff training and performance improvement. Through an inspection, you can share process and knowledge throughout your team. If you decide to conduct inspections, here are a few tips:

  • Be sure to maintain a respectful climate and critique the software rather than the developer.
  • Limit your meeting time to a few hours, as meeting effectiveness quickly diminishes as the length increases.
  • For efficiency, focus on the logic, function and correctness — not the style. Unlike logic and function, style is debatable. Everyone works differently.
  • But, most importantly, remember that you’re identifying problems and not solving them in an agile inspection. Attempting to solve problems leads to arguments (and wasted time). The author should fix identified defects.

(These best practice were collected from a few great inspection authors: Karl Wiegers, Tom Glib, and Scott Ambler).


Initially, application lifecyle management (ALM 1.0) was about the introduction of specialized tools and the ability to manage data (requirements, tasks, code, defects, etc). With today’s pressure to build products faster, organizations adopt agile techniques, focusing ALM 2.0 on the process. At Jama, we believe the next evolution of ALM will focus on people. Through agile inspections, you can begin leveraging the collective genius of your entire organization, and by doing so, develop better products and software. At the same time, you’ll cut costs and save time.

We created the Review Center within Contour to help conduct informal inspections and create a more social product development process, reviewing and approving requirements with all the people you care about. In the Review Center, you can send a set of requirements out for review with your internal and external stakeholders. You can gather feedback, monitor progress and approve your requirements in real-time. Learn more about the Review Center process through our 8-minute how-to video >

We believe collaboration is critical to software development. Agile inspections provide an opportunity for collaboration and identifying defects. Let us know if you agree.