Quality control is a key preventive component of quality assurance. Defect removal via technical reviews during the development life cycle is an example of a quality control technique. The purpose of technical reviews is to increase the efficiency of the development life cycle and provide a method to measure the quality of the products. Technical reviews reduce the amount of rework, testing, and "quality escapes," that is, undetected defects. They are the missing links to removing defects and can also be viewed as a testing technique, even though we have categorized testing as a separate quality assurance component.

Originally developed by Michael Fagan of IBM in the 1970s, inspections have several aliases. They are often referred to interchangeably as "peer reviews," "inspections," or "structured walkthroughs." Inspections are performed at each phase of the development life cycle from user requirements through coding. In the latter, code walkthroughs are performed in which the developer walks through the code for the reviewer.

Research demonstrates that technical reviews can be a lot more productive than automated testing techniques in which the application is executed and tested. A technical review is a form of testing, or manual testing, not involving program execution on the computer. Structured walkthroughs and inspections are a more efficient means of removing defects than software testing alone. They also remove defects earlier in the life cycle, thereby reducing defect-removal costs significantly. They represent a highly efficient, low-cost technique of defect removal and can potentially result in a reduction of defect-removal costs of greater than two thirds when compared to dynamic software testing. A side benefit of inspections includes the ability to periodically analyze the defects recorded and remove the root causes early in the software development life cycle.

The purpose of the following section is to provide a framework for implementing software reviews. Discussed is the rationale for reviews, the roles of the participants, planning steps for effective reviews, scheduling, allocation, agenda definition, and review reports.