The Application of Subjective Estimates of Effectiveness to Controlling Software Inspections
One of the recently proposed tools for controlling software inspections is capture-recapture models. These are models that can be used to estimate the number of remaining defects in a software document after an inspection. Based on this information one can decide whether to reinspect a document to ensure that it is below a prespecified defect density threshold, and that the inspection process itself has attained a minimal level of effectiveness. This line of work has also recently been extended with other techniques, such as the Detection Profile Method. In this paper we investigate an alternative approach: the use of subjective estimates of effectiveness by the inspectors for making the reinspection decision. We performed a study with 30 professional software engineers and found that the median relative error of the engineersü subjective estimates of defect content to be zero, and that the reinspection decision based on that estimate is consistently more correct than the default decis ion of never reinspecting. This means that subjective estimates provide a good basis for ensuring product quality and inspection process effectiveness during software inspections. Since a subjective estimation procedure can be easily integrated into existing inspection processes, it represents a good starting point for practitioners before introducing more objective decision making criteria by means of capture-recapture models or the Defect Detection Profile Method.