If you want to write clean, maintainable code, you need code review.
Automated tests and quality assurance (QA) can catch defects and edge cases, but only a second pair of qualified eyes can make sure the design and logic of your code are going to work long-term.
To keep the product development cycle moving faster, and reduce the amount of technical debt they create, more companies are turning to outsourced code review. Outsourced code review is scalable to your needs and your schedule. You can receive an evaluation quickly from developers with expertise in many different technologies.
If you’re considering outsourcing your code review, here are four benefits you should be aware of.
1. Higher-quality code review with fewer bruised egos
When deadlines from investors, clients, and partners accumulate, it can be difficult to maintain a collaborative, solution-oriented culture around the practice of code review.
Reviewers, especially if they’re busy or stressed, can lack tact. Code critiques can appear to be personal critiques, and junior developers might be especially likely to suffer from the pressure. Without the right practices in place, this pressure can hurt morale, leading to expensive attrition or wasteful perfectionism.
Smaller teams are especially likely to struggle since their resources are more dispersed, and the responsibilities of individual developers can be strained.
Outsourced code review enables your team to make code quality a priority.
Outsourced code review provides an unbiased, third-party perspective. An external team can focus on the code, not on whoever made it and whatever circumstances they were dealing with as they made it. This gives them a vantage point internal developers may struggle to get. Outsourced reviewers can hone in on the details, catching flaws developers might miss and drawing back to the big picture, while also providing advice on system architecture.
Code review is a difficult task, and programming skill doesn’t necessarily translate into reviewing skill. Even a highly skilled coding team can’t promise well-reviewed code. Outsourced reviewers who specialize in the review process can. Outsourced code review enables even the smallest startups to have code that aligns with enterprise-level coding standards.
With code review effectively taken care of by an outsourced service, your team can make decisions based on code quality, not development resources. The same amount of developer time will be more productive and result in better code because it’s not pulled in multiple directions by varying review requests.
2. A faster process with fewer bugs
In software, it’s essential to fix problems in your code quickly. As you move from coding to testing and into production, the cost of fixing your average bug increases on a near-exponential curve.
Code review should help solve this problem, but there’s a problem: developers are always busy.
The everyday work of software development requires getting into a flow state, but code review is inherently interruptive.
When a developer submits a PR for review, someone else has to stop what they’re doing, completely switching context to review that code. Meanwhile, the initial developer might have a dozen different tasks to start while waiting for that review. Once it comes in, that developer has to context-switch back, leaving tasks partially done and their focus fragmented.
And that’s if everything goes relatively smoothly. The busier an organization is, the more likely it is that getting your code reviewed will take a long time. Delays compound and one PR missing its review can drag down the production of code that depends on it.
The longer code review takes, the more likely an organization is to start cutting corners and ignoring code review where they can. Technical debt is deadly to development teams that need to move fast, so skipping code reviews can seem like a short-term remedy.
With outsourced code reviews, developers can count on faster turnaround times. Using an external team means involving code reviewers who specialize in reviewing code—not commandeering the time of already busy developers.
Once code review is outsourced, developers can focus on committing code instead of planning for ambiguous, unpredictable review times. Planning becomes easier as developers wait less for reviews and spend less time on rework. Senior developers also don’t have to context-switch between reviews and new commits, enabling them to go deep where their time is most needed.
A team that can count on a fast turnaround has a greater likelihood of shipping better products on schedule with less stress.
3. Better error discovery and correction
Good code reviews catch both accidental and structural errors. Accidental errors are usually typos, but those can be especially difficult for the original developer to spot. Structural errors can include dead code, algorithm bugs, performance problems (such as memory leaks), architecture flaws, API compatibility problems, and test coverage.
When it comes to compliance and security, code reviews can make the difference between something that delights and something that gets your company, or your users, in trouble. The Open Web Application Security Project, a nonprofit open source software project, says that “Code review is probably the single-most effective technique for identifying security flaws.”
Automated code tests can catch minor flaws, but can rarely improve the functionality or design of your code. Unit testing can further verify that the code is functioning as intended, but only another developer can simplify unnecessary complexity or think of alternative solutions.
Getting the highest quality code requires the input of reviewers who can not only see problems and solutions, but also provide strategies that can level up your code. Making errors is an inevitable part of programming, so code reviews are essential to ensuring that code remains functional and secure. Having access to feedback will make the code cleaner, more readable, and more performant.
Outsourced reviewers can scale to the needs of your code. When you outsource, your code can be improved without the time and resource constraints you might otherwise encounter.
4. Lower costs in the short- and long-term
Being proactive about code quality saves money.
Research from Stripe and Harris Poll shows that technical debt and maintenance issues can consume as much as 42% of a developer’s time:
Bad code requires companies to spend money fixing it. The opportunity cost—the money that could have been put toward building instead of fixing—amounts to $85 billion a year.
This opportunity cost piles higher for every bug. IBM research found that it’s 15 times more expensive to fix bugs during testing and 6 times more expensive to fix bugs during implementation than to find them during design. The more you can prioritize code quality in the development process, the cheaper it becomes to review code.
Outsourcing saves you money throughout the entire development process, but this benefit isn’t exclusively about savings. As the product development cycle spins faster, no longer slowed down by internal review, you can re-emphasize employee development.
Good code review makes a code base easier to read and understand, which means it’s more accessible for people outside the initial development process. This means QA will have to spend less time checking for bugs in order to have more space to explore edge cases.
More readable code will also enable new employees and contract hires to onboard faster and more comfortably, leading them to contribute value earlier than they would be able to otherwise.
Better onboarding can lead directly to better employee development. The more feedback you get, the more your developers will improve. Code reviews, performed thoroughly and delivered efficiently, can help you identify defects that keep cropping up. With the data an external service can provide, isolated problems become patterns that are measurable and improvable.
Get more done with PullRequest
Not all outsourced code review can deliver these benefits. That’s where PullRequest comes in.
When you outsource code review to PullRequest, we deploy a team of vetted developers to review your code and return it to you within 48 hours. We ensure these developers know your languages and your needs, giving you both the objective perspective of a third-party and the detail-oriented eye of an expert. By integrating with popular tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, external review can become an integral, organic part of your workflow.