These three benefits of establishing a healthy code review process can help development teams write better code and do it more efficiently:
Improve readability and maintainability
With the exception of solo engineers working on their own projects, most software is a collaboration built by teams of people working together. As development teams grow, oftentimes the developer now assigned to maintaining a feature isn’t the same person who originally wrote it.
Code review is the best opportunity to get feedback on the readability of your code from another engineer. In addition to checking for quality and performant code, a good review process encourages teams to optimize code for readability.
More readable code is also more maintainable code, which makes it easier to bring new team members up to speed, fix bugs, and deliver new features.
Identify issues before your users do
Like unit testing and QA, code review also helps to reduce defects in your codebase, but it happens much earlier in the development cycle. This causes less back-and-forth churn than letting issues make it all the way to your QA team, or worse, to your users.
With code review, you can zero in on a limited set of changes at a given point in time. After code has been released to production, fixing bugs reported by users typically involves looking across all of the cumulative sets of changes since your last release.
There are also certain types of issues that are easier to identify during code review. An experienced engineer trained to look for security issues can prevent vulnerabilities from being introduced in ways that would be much harder to catch otherwise.
On my engineering team, I’ve seen reviewers flag issues during code review that likely saved us cumulative weeks of time had they made their way into production. Code review can’t guarantee perfect software, but it’s the most efficient form of quality control we use as part of our development cycle.
Keep your skills sharp
If you skip the code review process or don’t take the feedback seriously, then you’re missing out on one of the shortest feedback loops in software development, and an excellent way to learn how to be a better engineer and build your knowledge base.
As an engineering lead, the mark of a great senior engineer is someone who’s open to learning from feedback, who can also provide that level of guidance and mentorship to others. Establishing a positive feedback loop through a healthy code review process enables teams to grow and learn from one another.