Structured Walkthrough

What is Structured Walkthrough?

The process of Quality Assurance (QA) during software development is an important one. It is one of the most significant phase of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) that requires great deal of planning and testing. With the assistance of quality assurance, one can not only validate the quality of the product, but also ensure that the end product has exceptional effectiveness, performance and functionality.

Moreover, the tests conducted by the quality assurance team guarantees that the product is developed as per the demands and requirements of the client and it provides expected and accurate results. Since the goal of quality assurance is to look at earlier work, designers are required to prepare a review, inspection or walkthrough and be ready for carrying out any checks or follow up work that is needed.

Walkthrough is one of the most important method in quality assurance. Structured Walkthrough is an interchange of ideas among peers, who review the product presented by its author. Its purpose is to anticipate as many problems in the design as possible and improve the quality of the product. Hence, here is a detailed discussion on Structured Walkthrough.

What is Structured Walkthrough?

Structures Walkthrough is one of the strongest Quality Assurance (QA) action. It is an organized procedure for a group of peers to review and discuss the technical aspects of software development products. The major objective of a structured walkthrough is to find errors and to improve the quality of the product. It is a more formal technique for checking the solution algorithm. In Structured Walkthrough, the programmer explains the logic of the algorithm, while members of the programming team step through the program logic.

The basic purpose of a walkthrough is error detection, not error correction. When the walkthrough is completed, the author of the work product is responsible for taking the necessary actions to correct the errors. The author may hold private conversations with reviewers or conduct follow-up meetings to discuss potential solutions. Structured walkthroughs should be conducted during all stages of the system lifecycle. Moreover, it can be conducted in various formats, with various levels of formality, and with different types of participants. Furthermore, structured walkthrough is held to review the system test plan, program design, and production acceptance.

Participants in Structured Walkthrough:

Structured Walkthrough is a process that involves several important activities, which are completed by different experts of the Quality Assurance team. It is a form of software peer review, in which a designer or programmer leads members of the development team and other interested parties through a software product, and the participants ask questions and make comments about possible errors, violation of development standards, and other problems. Each participant in the structured walkthrough process has a specific role. However, for a small size project, a person may fulfil multiple roles. There, the various the participants in Structured Walkthrough are mentioned below:

  1. Author: The author of the work product is responsible for requesting the walkthrough when a meaningful portion of the product has been developed and is free of casual errors or defects. The author attends the walkthrough as an observer and answers reviewer’s general questions.
  2. Presenter: They usually develop the agenda for the walkthrough and present the work product that is being reviewed. The presenter should be familiar with the work product and should be a member of the project team.
  3. Moderator: The main responsibility of the moderator is to facilitate the walkthrough session and ensure that the walkthrough agenda is followed. Moderators also encourage the participation of all reviewers. Moreover, the moderator can also be the scribe.
  4. Reviewers: Evaluate the work product to determine if it is technically accurate. The reviewers also assess whether the project guidelines or standards are being followed, the project requirements are met, and whether the product is properly prepared.
  5. Scribe: The scribe takes notes during the walkthrough. Their responsibility is to record the errors that are identified and any other technical comments, suggestions, and unresolved questions. Also, a scribe cannot be a reviewer.

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Things to Remember While Performing Structured Walkthrough:

Although its techniques are applicable to other design methodologies, the walkthrough is a procedure that is used to check the correctness of models produced by structural analysis. In structured walkthrough, specific tasks are allocated to various members of the team and it requires documentation to be produced during and after the whole process. While performing structured walkthrough, the team of qualified testers and experts should check the model for the following things:

  • Whether the model meets system objectives.
  • Is it a correct representation of the system?
  • Has no omissions or ambiguities.
  • It must do the job it is supposed to do.
  • They should ensure that it is easy to understand.

Why is Structure Walkthrough Important?

The importance of Structured Walkthrough in software development process and quality assurance is extremely high. It is one method of quality assurance that focuses on the improvement of the system by early detection of faults and improves confidence in the system. Moreover, the number of errors in the production system decreases immensely in the organisations that use structured walkthroughs. Therefore, the other reasons that increase the importance of structured walkthrough are:

  • Walkthroughs are one of the most important method used in Quality Assurance.
  • It does not require actual design or system alteration during the whole process.
  • Walkthrough can take place throughout system development.
  • It begins when the physical and logical models of the existing system have been completed.
  • The walkthroughs checks the existing system to detect emission and inaccuracies in them.
  • Should be carried out on new logical design to detect flows, weakness, errors and omissions in the proposed design.
  • It bridges the gap between the designer, who as a staff person has an expert perspective, and the user with a generalised or marginal view.

Advantages of Structured Walkthrough:

Structured Walkthrough has several advantages, which make it immensely popular among programmers and software developers. It is one of the strongest Quality Assurance technique, which aims at detecting all the discrepancies and errors in the software as well as to improve its quality. Other benefits or advantages of Structured Walkthrough are:

  • It saves time and money by finding and correcting errors earlier in the life cycle.
  • Provides value-added input from reviewers with different technical backgrounds, experience, and expertise.
  • Validates and improves the related life cycle work products.
  • Keeps the project team informed of the development progress.
  • Provides professional growth to participants by giving them an opportunity to look at different development methodologies and approaches.
  • Can be applied to BPP, system specifications, logical and physical designs, program code, test procedures, manuals and documentations.

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In today’s world, the need for perfect and great quality is extraordinary. People all over the globe demand various types of products that have exceptional performance and functionality as well as fulfil all their needs. Similarly, in the software industry too, consumers and the end users demand software systems and applications that are of state-of-the-art quality and provide expected or desired results.

However, to accomplish such demands, software engineers have to go to great lengths while developing software systems and applications.

Throughout the software development process, they use several techniques and methods of software development and constantly perform test for quality assurance and to detect any discrepancies in the system. Structured Walkthrough is a type of Quality Assurance technique, which is used by software testers for error detection.

Structured Walkthrough is conducted during all the stages of system life cycle and it is a process of peer group review of any technical product, where the review involves other system analysts who work with the testers, as well as users and programmers, and more. In short, structured walkthrough is the method of detecting errors and making improvements early in the development process, which further reduces its overall cost and time.

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