Chicago Software Process Improvement Network
(C-SPIN) Meeting
Thursday, October 3, 2002

Fagan Inspections: The Left Shift Paradigm
Michael Fagan


Because the effort to fix defects increases from 10X to 100X between their point of origin and the time of shipment, the effect of defect rework on development effort is profound – often exceeding 50% of total development cost.

The LEFT SHIFT PARADIGM simply means shifting development effort to the left (earlier) to find and fix defects as close to their point of origin as possible, thereby bringing a net reduction in development cost. The FAGAN DEFECT-FREE PROCESS employs FAGAN INSPECTIONS, which are an extremely effective means of finding defects close to their point of origin. Highly efficient FAGAN INSPECTIONS find more than 90% of all the lifecycle operational defects (i.e., Defects which cause malfunction.)

Fagan Inspections actually shorten time to shipment, redistributing resource more efficiently. In fact, the ROI of introducing code inspections alone is 12.5 to 1. ROIs for requirements and design inspections are naturally higher.

The FAGAN DEFECT-FREE PROCESS also incorporates Process Improvement to eliminate defects in the development process that introduce defects in the product. This results in fewer defects being created with each subsequent iteration of the process.

The immediate and long-term effects of using this process, as reported by users of the process, are evident in the following results:

These results are immediate – usually obtained in the same development cycle! For this reason, many organizations report that the process also accelerates their attainment of higher CMM and CMMI levels.


Michael Fagan has had 20 years of experience in IBM as a line manager of software development, engineering development, and manufacturing. In addition, he was: manager of programming methodology for IBM's DP Product Group (Worldwide); the first software senior technical staff member in IBM's T.J. Watson Research Laboratory; a member of the Corporate Technology Staff; and, one of the founder members of the IBM Quality Institute.

IBM awarded him the largest individual Corporate Achievement Award for creating the INSPECTION PROCESS and promoting its implementation in IBM's laboratories around the world and in industry. For two years Michael was a visiting Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, where he was also a member of the Graduate Council.

In 1989, he formed Michael Fagan Associates, which provides training worldwide to enable companies to successfully implement the methodologies named for him: Fagan Inspections and the Fagan Defect-Free Process. His company’s efforts are aimed at helping clients gain impressive results immediately - in the product or release on which they are currently working!