This requirement calls out four important best practices that are associated with effective inspections:
a. Using a checklist supports the software peer review/inspection team members by giving them a memory aid regarding what quality aspects they are responsible for in the document under review. The checklists provide a concrete way for the inspection to improve over time. Defect types that are seen to continually slip through peer reviews/inspections are added to the checklist so that future teams are aware that they are important to look for. Checklist items that no longer lead to defects being found are candidates for deletion. If kept up to date in this way, checklists provide a timely and efficient list of the types of issues on which review time should be spent.
b. Readiness and completion criteria are used to ensure that peer review/inspection time is being spent effectively and that confidence can be had in the outcome. Readiness criteria is satisfied before an inspection is able to begin. They represent the minimal set of quality characteristics that are to be satisfied before it is worthwhile to have a team of subject matter experts spend significant time on understanding, assessing, and discussing the product under review/inspection. Readiness criteria also indicate the preparedness of the peer review/inspection team to conduct the review/inspection. Readiness criteria may specify standards and guidelines to be adhered to; set project-specific criteria like the level of detail or a particular policy to be followed; and may require the use of automated tools (like static analysis tools or traceability tools). Completion criteria represent a set of measurable activities that are to be completed at the end of an inspection, so that statements can be made with confidence regarding the outcome. For example, completion criteria may require that all process steps have been completed and documented; metrics have been collected; or that all major defects have been completed and approved.
c. Action items are required to be tracked through completion so that it is assured that the inspection has a positive impact on software quality. Due to time pressures, teams who identify significant numbers of defects in an inspection and then do not take the time to resolve them, are wasting effort. Tracking the action items ensures that such an outcome is avoided. In addition to the impact on software quality, this best practice also aims at keeping the morale of inspection teams high. Nothing is more de-moralizing for a team than investing significant time in identifying and reporting software defects, if they are never fixed afterwards.
d. Effective peer reviews/inspections begin with a planning phase in which plans are made regarding the scope of the document under review, the time available, and other key parameters. One of the most important issues to address in this step is to analyze which perspectives or stakeholders are needed to ensure that all quality aspects can be adequately addressed in an inspection. Taking the time to apply a rigorous inspection process will not automatically yield an effective outcome if the actual engineering knowledge and expertise is never brought to bear on analyzing the document.