Can using Fagan Inspections improve the quality of specification in 2011? A Case Study

This source preferred by Sherry Jeary and Keith Phalp

Authors: Jeary, S., Phalp, K.T., Milsom, F., Hughes, L., Webster, S. and Holroyd, J.

In this paper, we explore why Fagan Inspections have become obsolete in the software industry, given the body of evidence which supports their use to improve the quality of software artefacts and the software development process. Since the late 1970’s, much has been written about how Fagan Inspections improve the quality of both processes and outputs of the software development process. The literature indicates that the Fagan Inspection technique can improve quality of software (or other software development artefacts) by a reduction in defects of 60 – 90%. However, recent literature suggests that inspection techniques in general and Fagan Inspections in particular, are no longer used. A study in 1998 found that respondents used inspections either irregularly or not at all. Teams often review artefacts informally, but believe that they are performing an inspection or formal review. The lack of rigour in the review process results in reduced benefits and more defects in the artefacts.

To explore this situation, we conducted a case study with a local enterprise and we report on the early findings. These suggest that the introduction of Fagan Inspections may have a number of benefits before they have even been introduced fully, including recognition of flaws in the current development process, development of technical knowledge relating to the software process domain, and improved team relations and a ‘quality’ culture. In addition, the personnel using Fagan Inspection gain experience in the production of ‘quality’ artefacts.

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