Best Practices

Streamlining Requirements Reviews: Best Practices for Moderators, Reviewers, and Approvers

Reviews play a key role in successful product and systems development. They help ensure a new product will meet stakeholder, market, and compliance requirements.
Unfortunately, not all teams recognize the importance of implementing a solution for a formal review process: Almost a third of teams either have no requirements management system in place and rely on informal forms of collaboration and reviews with email and shared spreadsheets, according to a research report from Engineering.com.

Outdated review processes — involving long email chains, shared spreadsheets, and lengthy meetings — stifle collaboration, increase miscommunication, and result in team misalignment. This often leads to long review cycles, versioning issues, and an abundance of unnecessary meetings.

While a breakdown in communication can happen at any point in the product development lifecycle, reviewing and approving requirements is a particularly important process for ensuring all stakeholders are aligned. In fact, collaboration and clear communication during the review process has tangible benefits that impact speed to market, product quality, and your bottom line.

And while every review is different, there are generally three primary roles that exist in a product review: Moderators, Approvers, and Reviewers. In Jama Connect™ Review Center, each of these roles can be formally assigned to mirror best practices and ensure everyone understands the scope of their responsibilities.

Formal and informal reviews may necessitate different things from each of these roles, but we’ve compiled a list of best practices by role to make reviews go quickly and smoothly.

See the development time savings and efficiencies that our customers are experiencing with Review Center in this infographic.

Best Practices for Requirements Reviews by Role

As the Moderator, you are ultimately responsible for facilitating the review and incorporating the feedback from Approvers and Reviewers.

Best Practices for Moderators:

Provide thorough guidance. What type of feedback are you seeking? That the requirements are valid and correct? Or that the requirements are feasible? Or that the requirements are written well with proper grammar and syntax? Be sure to include specific focus and instructions in the review invite so all participants know exactly what to provide.

Balance the number of participants. Think carefully about the number of people you invite to a review. Too many and you’ll never have time to incorporate all the feedback. Too few and you may not receive enough feedback or miss critical stakeholder opinions.

Incorporate all feedback. If you have thoughts, feedback, or ideas related to a requirement, add comments for transparency so all participants can see the feedback.

Revise! It’s ok to publish lots of revisions during a review. Just make sure that all participants are looking at the latest revision so they can easily compare differences across revisions.

Close reviews when they are complete. Reviews finish when 1) you have enough feedback or 2) the deadline is reached. If you have enough feedback prior to deadline, make sure that you close it.

Best Practices for Reviews and Approvers:

If you are taking the role of Approver or Reviewer, your primary responsibility is to provide feedback.

Focus your feedback based on the Moderator’s instructions. What did the Moderator request you to review? Technical feasibility? Validation of requirement needs? Grammar and syntax? If you’re unsure, ask your Moderator.

Highlight important feedback. When adding feedback, highlighting text helps others know that you are focusing feedback on that specific piece of the requirement.

Categorize your comments for clarity. Indicate if your feedback is a question, proposed change, or issue.

Clearly communicate when you are finished. Make sure you clearly communicate that you are finished providing feedback so the moderator will know you are done. Keep in mind that you don’t need to comment on every item – you can abstain from providing feedback on certain items in the review.

Register for our upcoming webinar, “Ask Jama: Tips and Tricks for More Effective Reviews.”

The Benefits of Conducting Reviews in Jama Connect™

Jama Connect Review Center allows teams to:

  • Assign roles such as Moderators, Approvers, and Reviewers
  • Send product requirements for review
  • Define what’s required
  • Invite relevant stakeholders to participate, collaborate, and iterate on resolving issues
  • Approve agreed-upon requirements

Facilitating the improvement of collaboration and communication during reviews is resulting in major returns for Jama Software customers.

Take RBC Medical, for example, who now saves an average of $150,000 per project after they moved from semi-manual processes to conducing reviews in Jama Connect.  Now that RBC Medical has a centralized place to manage and collaborate on reviews, they’ve all but eliminated the need for lengthy, in-person meetings or back and forth emailing, making reviews more efficient and scalable.

But cost savings isn’t the only positive business outcome to result from an improved review process. MediSync estimates that Jama Connect Review Center has saved the team 80% of planning time that previously would have been wasted on meetings, sorting through versioned documents and emails, and consolidating feedback in review cycle.

Another customer, global healthcare leader Grifols, says that Review Center has helped it shorten review cycles from three months to fewer than 30 days, while reducing budget overruns. It estimates savings of over 80 hours per project in medical device development.

By simplifying the revision and approval process, Review Center streamlines reviews and facilitates team collaboration. With the ability to easily provide feedback where required, stakeholders and participants can move quickly and efficiently through reviews and on to the next stage of product development.

To learn more about best practices for moving through reviews quickly and seamlessly, download the Jama Software Guide to Review Center Best Practices.