The Engineering Manager's Guide to the Code Review Process

The outcomes of code review, and how managers can improve the process in a way that benefits the team as a whole.

The general purpose of code review is for development teams to recognize and remedy bugs before code hits production. That’s the traditional view. Yet we also believe that code review can accomplish much more than just that one pragmatic outcome—especially if leaders and managers become meaningful participants in the review process.

Beyond fixing bugs, code review (we use the words PR, pull request, and code review interchangeably) results in higher quality code that is more broadly understood across a team. Studies show that this process saves money, reduces reliance on QA, and improves engineering development, knowledge sharing, and the overall culture of the team in addition to the quality of the code. It’s also an opportunity for engineers to collaborate, learn from their peers, practice mentorship, and discover improved solutions to problems.

In this guide, we’ve assembled foundational resources for software engineering leaders to be able to communicate concisely about the outcomes of code review (both the traditional goal of higher-quality code as well as improved collaboration and problem-solving within teams). This guide also highlights the manager’s role in the code review process, including eight review dynamics common to engineering teams. These dynamics include ways to recognize various working patterns in teams, and ways to leverage these insights to coach the team towards more sustainable practices and help reduce any friction in working together.