Updated April 13, 2023
What is Formal Review?
Formal review in software testing is a review that characterized by documented procedures and requirements. Inspection is the most documented and formal review technique. The formality of the process is related to factors such as the maturity of the software development process, any legal or regulatory requirements, or the need for an audit trail. The formal review follows the formal process which consists of six main phases – Planning phase, Kick-off phase, the preparation phase, review meeting phase, rework phase, and follow-up phase. In this article, we are going to see these phases in detail.
Process of Formal Review
The formal review process is given step by step which as follows:
For a particular review, the review process begins with a request for review, where the author requests a moderator to review the particular product or software. Moderator is responsible for the scheduling of the review i.e. dates, times, work, etc. Moderator performs entry checks and defines the exit criteria. An entry check is performed to ensure that the reviewer’s time is not wasted on a document that is not ready for the review. Once the entry check for a particular document is passed, both moderator and author of the document decides which part of the document needs to review. The formal review team is consists of 4-5 members. Moderators assign different roles/tasks to each member. So that each reviewer can focus on a particular type of defect during checking. This process not only saves time but also reduces the chances of different reviewers finding the same defect.
The next phase of the formal review process is an optional kick-off meeting. The main goal of this phase is to get everybody on the same wavelength regarding the document under review and to commit to the time that will be spent on checking. In this meeting, reviewers receive a short introduction to the objectives of the review and its document. Role assignment, pages to be checked, check rate, and other things that need to be carried out for the review are discussed in this meeting. Distribution of the review documents, source documents, and other relatable documents are also shared during the kick-off meeting.
A kick-off meeting is highly recommended as it motivates the reviewers.
In this phase, using related documents, rules, checklist, and procedures each team member work individually on the documents. These team members individually identify bugs, comments, questions according to their understanding of the document, and role. All these issues are recorded in the logging form. Spelling mistakes are also recorded but not discussed during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, all these annotated documents are given to the author of the project.
The check rate is a critical success factor for this phase. The check rate is the number of pages checked per hour. Optimum check rate is the result of a mix of factors, including types of documents, a number of related documents, complexity, and reviewer’s experience. Usually checking rate is in the range of 5 to 10 pages per hour. During the preparation phase, a team member should not exceed the checking rate they have been asked to use. criteria for checking rate and document size can be set by collecting data and measuring the review process.
4. Review Meeting
In the review meeting phase, all issues are discussed. team member forwards their comments and issues. Moderator of the project take care of these issues and ensure that all discussed items either have an outcome by the end of the meeting or are defined as an action point if a discussion cannot be solved during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, team members take a decision on the documents based on exit criteria. If the number of defects found per page exceeds a certain level, then the document must be reviewed again. If a project is under pressure, then the moderator will sometimes be forced to skip reviews and exit with a defect prone document.
In the rework phase, based on the defects that are identified in the preparation and review meeting phase are discussed. The author will try to improve the document based on these defects and rework them. Note that not every defect leads to rework. it’s the author’s responsibility to examine the defect and decide whether it need rework or not. In some cases, this decision is taken in a review meeting. If nothing is done about an issue for a certain reason, it should be reported to at least which indicates that the author has considered the issue. Changes that are made in the document are easy to find during the follow-up phase, so the author has to indicate where the changes are made.
In the follow-up phase, the moderator of the project is responsible for ensuring that satisfactory action has been taken for all logged defects, process improvement, and change requests. although the moderator also checks to make sure that the author of the project has taken appropriate action on all defects. it is not compulsory that the moderator need to check all the rework or corrections in detail. If it is decided that all team members will check the document and update the same, then the moderator just takes care of the roles distribution among the team and collecting feedback from them. To control the review process, the moderator collects all the measurements at each phase of the process. For example, the number of defects found a number of defects found per page, time spent on the documents, time spent to correct the defects per page, etc. It’s a moderator responsibility that all details are correct and kept for future analysis.
This is a guide to Formal Review. Here we also discuss the introduction and formal review process along with the 6 steps. you may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –