Software & Systems Requirements Engineering: In Practice

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Information and Software Technology. September Requirements Engineering. Bibcode : arXiv Systems engineering. Aerospace engineering Biological systems engineering Configuration management Earth systems engineering and management Electrical engineering Enterprise systems engineering Performance engineering Reliability engineering Safety engineering.

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Veloso John N. Control engineering Computer engineering Industrial engineering Operations research Project management Quality management Risk management Software engineering. Software engineering. Computer programming Requirements engineering Software deployment Software design Software maintenance Software testing Systems analysis Formal methods. Data modeling Enterprise architecture Functional specification Modeling language Orthogonality Programming paradigm Software Software archaeology Software architecture Software configuration management Software development methodology Software development process Software quality Software quality assurance Software verification and validation Structured analysis.

Dijkstra Delores M. Computer science Computer engineering Project management Risk management Systems engineering. For example, database analysts might think of database configurations as they conduct interviews and place their thoughts in with the stakeholder requests. Therefore, when stakeholder requests are captured, it is important to tag the information recorded with one or more attributes describing the level of the captured information, along with which stakeholder is requesting it.

So we plan to have an interlock system between the brake and the transmission. The interlock will decouple the transmission when the brake is pressed. When captured and placed in a requirements database, the tagging might look as shown in Table 3. Note that the selection of stainless steel was removed because it was a proposed solution, not a requirement. Failure to Accurately Identify Stakeholders Imagine being at a meeting with ten or fifteen stakeholders representing hospitals and health care networks.

One stakeholder suggests a product feature that would allow patients or doctors to schedule appointments for medical services over the web. Another stakeholder feels that it is a good idea, but not as urgent as having doctors schedule appointments and services from their PDAs. During prioritization meetings it is determined that both requests cannot be satisfied in the first release of the hospital scheduling system.

One of the requests came from a ten-thousand-bed health care network, and the other request came from a small, one-hundred-bed hospital. Thus, the information needed for prioritization and release scheduling is missing. So, it is very important to record stakeholder information when collecting product requests. Problems Separating Context from Requirement Eliciting stakeholder requests to create requirements can be a difficult task when stakeholders ramble.

Sometimes, stakeholders will confuse background with need. Drivers should therefore be able to see the signal from at least 50 feet away in the rain, and then apply their brakes if the light is red. We do not want drivers going through red lights. Everything else is either wishful thinking or out of scope for requirements for a signaling system.

One way to prevent the intermixing of requests and requirements with need is to carefully separate context and background from stakeholder requests. Requests are something that the system shall do. Context might include information about the way the environment will be impacted by the system after installation.

Context might also include background information about the reason the system is being purchased or created; it might include background information describing the environment. We recommend that background information be kept in separate documents or, at the least, in separate sections of a document, e.

Specifications may become part of binding contracts, and it is important to avoid having wishful thinking or expected external behavior contractually guaranteed by a supplier. Failure to Collect Enough Information Some stakeholders or domain experts can be difficult to track down and meet with.

Requirements engineering for software and systems applied software engineering series

On a taxation system project that we worked on, for example, the requirements engineers were informed that the tax accountants and attorneys were very busy during tax return preparation season and could meet with the analysts only one hour a week. Once an elicitation cycle is completed, it can be difficult in some cases to revisit open issues with stakeholders. Therefore, it is important to collect as much information as possible during elicitation sessions.

One way to do this is to have representatives of development, manufacturing, and testing present their requirements wishes during elicitation sessions. We also recommend that access to subject matter experts be part of the initial planning for a project. Very often the people who know the most about a topic are those a company may rely most heavily on, and consequently, their availability may be very limited.

Requirements Are Too Volatile Capers Jones and Walker Royce have estimated that for most projects there is a 1—3 percent change per month in the meaning or interpretation of requirements [Jones ], [Royce ]. If needs are changing rapidly, defining a stable set of product requirements may not be feasible. It may be necessary to wait until there is some level of stability before attempting to finalize a baseline requirement set for a product Figure 3.

System Boundaries Are Not Identified Several years ago one of the authors worked on the requirements for an insurance underwriting system. The requirements gathering was being done in a distributed fashion, so it was important to ensure that there was no duplication of work, and that time was not spent on topics that were out of scope e.

High-level, color-coded models were used to indicate the distribution of work and identify out-of-scope topics see Figure 3. Understanding of Product Needs Is Incomplete Analysts are often asked to help define requirements for products where the stakeholders are uncertain of their needs. Sometimes they are even uncertain as to what the business goals are. There are several techniques that can be used to assist in clarifying customer needs. One method, prototyping, is discussed in detail in Chapter 9.

Another technique that we recommend is to start by creating marketing literature, a user manual, or lightweight specification sheets for the product. Such a mock marketing brochure development task might lead to the conclusion that not enough is known about the market, or perhaps the business goals are not clear enough. Users Misunderstand What Computers Can Do Stakeholders may ascribe virtues to computer systems that are futuristic, wishful thinking, or simply impractical.

However, it is a good idea to record cutting-edge requests, as they may go from cutting-edge to commonplace in short order. That is, the analyst may try to do it all himself or herself without seeking outside validation or views. Failure to communicate with external stakeholders can be especially dangerous in a domain where technology is changing rapidly e. Stakeholders Speak Different Natural and Technical Languages When stakeholders are from different domains or speak different languages, communication can be even more difficult.

You may have been in a situation where you were reading the instructions for doing something, could not get it to work, and then found out that steps were missing from the instructions. But a driver who uses such a car every day might take for granted putting the key in the ignition and pressing down on the clutch, while someone who has never driven before might realize that some steps had been left out. There is also a crossover point between elicitation and analysis; sometimes the boundary between the two activities is clearly defined, and sometimes it is not.

The conflict must be resolved, but not during the elicitation session unless it is just a matter of a minute or two. Conducting an elicitation session requires the same skill at moderation or facilitation as any other professional meeting, and complex or lengthy discussions need to take place elsewhere to avoid a loss of productivity. Facilitation of brainstorming sessions is described in more detail in the next section. No decisions have been made at this point about which of the needs will become requirements, and which of the requirements will be included in a release of the product that is yet to be built.

Furthermore, in many cases the same techniques can be used for both elicitation and analysis Figure 3. As there are so many different ways to capture stakeholder needs, we only mention a few here. The reader is encouraged to seek out techniques that are appropriate to their situation. These goals are associated with the needs of the manufacturing or development organization rather than the needs of the customer or purchaser. One way of visualizing and capturing business goals is a simple graphical technique known as goal modeling.

A nice survey of different goal modeling techniques can be found in the article by van Lamsweerde [van Lamsweerde ]. Goal modeling is a nice way to crystallize ideas, to present corporate goals in a simple-to-understand and unambiguous way, and to identify and balance difficult choices.

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In Figure 3. However, the reality is that the contribution of many high-level requirements cannot be calculated for a variety of reasons, including changing demographics, rapid shifts in technology, etc. Sometimes, difficulties associated with conflicting goals are not recognized until the requirements have gone through a complete review cycle. The refinement of nonfunctional requirements can bring to light issues that may otherwise remain hidden. The importance and impact that nonfunctional requirements can have warrant their consideration and elicitation as early as possible in the product development cycle.

Goal models can be as simple or as complex as necessary. Figure 3. Such simulators, mandated by regulation, are used to train the operators of nuclear power plants and must have high fidelity and reliability. The figure shown identifies quality assessment methods, or QAMs, that are used to determine how well the business goals meet the desired quality [Cleland-Huang ]. For example, QAM 5 states that when any action is taken, the simulator indicator light response shall be within milliseconds of the response in the real plant. That is, if a button is pressed in the power plant closing a valve and an indicator light comes on in three tenths of a second, then in the simulator, that light must come on within three to five tenths of a second.

Goal models with QAMs can be used as checklists to ensure that important nonfunctional requirements have not been overlooked. If a QAM cannot be defined for a nonfunctional requirement, then it may not be possible to test that the requirement has been met, and the requirement should then not be part of a contract or requirements specification, as it may not be feasible to implement. Real-time High Performance Extensible simulations must Able to behave identically Responsive accommodate within xmicrosecs modeling new failure tools scenarios.

Real-time at 10 frames received from plants screens in Changed feedback per second. Fossil fuel commission. Runtime water from computations in from reactor Q1 Fortran to parallel. Run system and multiple different Permanently Key cache common Score a simulations for small disk. Helps treatment of a scaled German, Supports plants. Q QAMs response plants. Portable Q11 Effective times. Typical collection methods are interviews and surveys.

These are techniques not normally thought of as being a part of requirements engineering, yet some survey methods are heavily used to evaluate market demands, possible interest in a product, and even emotional content. Furthermore, where there is a large customer base to draw on, it is possible to perform statistical analyses on surveys to measure customer interest or the emotional appeal of product features. One of the most common survey methods for analyzing customer interest in features is Kano modeling, named after its inventor, Professor Noriaki Kano [Kano ].

Kano modeling provides three variables to measure customer interest: one-dimensional, expected, and attractive quality. One- dimensional, or linear quality, applies where the potential value of a product feature increases linearly with some aspect of the feature. A good example of this is refrigerator energy efficiency. The more efficient the refrigerator is, the greater the likelihood it will attract purchasers. Expected quality is a feature that is mandatory for a product to succeed in the marketplace.

Attractive quality is a feature that is not expected but would add to the emotional appeal of a product. Product features can have different types of Kano quality variables, depending on locale, targeted market, and time. For example, a camera in a cell phone would have been an attractive quality several years ago but is now an expected quality in most markets.

One interesting aspect of Kano modeling is that measurements can be culturally sensitive. For example, in the United States most automobile customers would expect to purchase a car with an automatic transmission, while in Europe, a manual transmission is the norm. Kano modeling is widely accepted; some commercial requirements engineering management software tools come with Kano analysis facilities built in.

Another interesting use of survey and interview techniques is the measure of the emotional appeal of a product feature. Engineers and software developers are often not aware of or interested in the emotional appeal of their products, yet such factors can have important consequences for product sales. One extreme example of failing to take emotional appeal into consideration is the case of the Ford Edsel. First, we should mention the difference between the two, as there tends to be some confusion regarding the use of the two terms.

Prioritization is the assignment of importance to a requirement using a tag or label. Priorities are usually defined at the start of a project, using either a numerical or verbal ranking; e. When priorities are assigned to requests and requirements by stakeholders, only one of the defined values is acceptable. Ranking is the assignment of a unique order to each requirement in a group, such that no two requirements have the same rank. When questionnaires or surveys are sent out to customers, they will typically be asked to assign a priority to a feature e.

An effective approach when scoping a product or planning schedules or releases is to use pairwise ranking [Karlsson ], [Sobczaka et al. This process is done iteratively until all the requirements have been ranked.

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Since different stakeholders may rank the same requirements set differently, an approach must be formulated to merge the different sets of ranked requirements. We therefore recommend that a pairwise ranking prioritization be restricted to stakeholder requests or product features near the top of the pyramid , to reduce the ranking effort. Ranking cannot take place in a vacuum; e. Furthermore, in some industries additional factors such as hazards to the consumer and technology shifts must be considered.

System Requirements

For example, a novel technique for opening and closing car windows is evaluated that uses a light sensor; i. The cost to implement is low, customers evaluate the feature very highly, and it seems to have high positive emotional value. However, the hazard analysis see Chapter 11 indicates the potential for an unsafe condition, as a child can be hurt or injured when the window rises accidentally.

In summary, initial prioritization of stakeholder requests should take place as early in a product life cycle as possible. Prioritization should be accomplished as far up the requirements pyramid as is feasible, with ranking taking place once the requirements are sufficiently finalized such that the cost and resource impact of implementation is understood. Furthermore, some techniques such as pairwise ranking may not be feasible with a large number of requirements, e. Shigeru Mizuno and Yoji Akao in an effort to integrate customer needs into product designs [Akao ].

Seeks out spoken and unspoken customer needs from the fuzzy voice of the customer verbatim. Translates these into design characteristics and deliverable actions. Builds and delivers a quality product or service by focusing the various business functions toward achieving a common goal—customer satisfaction. As QFD is well documented, it will not be described here.

Brainstorming Sessions Brainstorming sessions are widely used to elicit initial stakeholder requests for products. They tend to take place with multiple stakeholders or customers, and the sessions are usually managed by experienced facilitators in one session over one or two days maximum. The objective of a brainstorming session is to come up with new and innovative ideas or product features in a very rapid period of time. A brainstorming session tends to have a set of discrete, well-defined activities.

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A capable facilitator is essential to the success of the session. When defining ideas, it is important to avoid conflicts: e. Since very senior people can be in the session, it is important that they not intimidate the other, less senior-level participants. An interesting story was told to one author during his military service. Military schools for senior officers often teach brainstorming techniques. At one such class, an Air Force captain, who was a friend of the author, engaged in a heated discussion with one of the other participants.

After the session was over, the captain went over to the other participant to review their in-class discussion, only to find out to his dismay that the other officer was a lieutenant general. In business, it is the role of the facilitator to prevent intimidation or speech making from occurring, and to keep the session moving smoothly. The objective and duration of the brainstorming session must be agreed upon by all the participants. This should ideally be determined prior to the start of the session.

The session starts with a free flow of ideas, creating an unsorted set of product suggestions. Some general brainstorming protocols include allowing duplicates or similar ideas to be recorded, and discouraging filtering or censorship; e. The next activity in brainstorming is the condensation of the ideas to group related concepts and eliminate redundancy. The third activity is to formally assign the ideas to categories. Next, the group breaks up into small teams that assess the ideas and expand upon them. Within each group, the ideas are then ranked pairwise ranking. Finally, the brainstorming session is concluded with action items where appropriate for participants in the session.

If the session was attended by customers not involved in analysis, then the post-session activities are usually done internally by project team members and company stakeholders. Tabular Elicitation Techniques The use of tables can provide a compact, unambiguous method for capturing stakeholder requests.

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Most of us have seen or used decision tables at one time or another. A very common form of decision table is the tax table shown in Figure 3. Each column represents a rule; i. When eliciting draft requirements from stakeholders, a decision table can be an efficient, compact, and unambiguous technique for capturing business rules. State tables are different than decision tables in that they are used where the object under consideration can be in various states at different times, and well-defined, simple events trigger the change from one state to another.

An object that transitions only on discrete events and has a predefined number of known states is called a state machine. Each state change is associated with one or more events If line 43 taxable income is— rule And you are— At But Single Married Married Head least less filing filing of a than jointly separately household Your tax is— 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, FIGURE 3.

As an example, consider the design of a simple CD player with three buttons Figure 3. The only states that the player can be in assuming the power is on are open, closed and loaded, closed and empty, and playing which is only possible if the player is closed and loaded. There are also well-defined events that determine what state the player is in, and clear actions to take for any given event.

On an event in this case pressing a button , one or more actions are taken, and the player transitions to a different state or stays in the same state. If there is a CD in the tray, the player will transition to state 2 closed and loaded , whereas if the tray is empty, the player will transition to state 3 closed and empty , depending on whether a CD is detected in the tray.

In general, deterministic state machines, where an event can have only at most one transition from a given state, are preferred because design and testing is simplified. However, it is sometimes possible to make a nondeterministic machine deterministic by adding intermediate states. Process Modeling Techniques A variety of process modeling techniques are suitable for the elicitation of requirements. Just a few of them are listed here, and model-driven techniques that are suitable for both elicitation and analysis are described in more detail in Chapter 4.

There are several similar methodologies, such as those defined by [Gane et al.

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  • A sample data flow diagram is shown in Figure 3. The vertical lines on the data stores indicate the number of times that the store is shown on the diagram. While DFDs appear to have fallen out of favor and viable tools can be hard to find, they still have their proponents. DFDs can be very effective diagramming techniques for analyzing business needs. The primary difference between the data flow and newer object-oriented techniques is the focus on data flows and data structures rather than services.

    Stores needed to hold the data and processes needed to manipulate the data are added. The results of the analysis are then captured in data flow diagrams for review with the stakeholders. Use case analysis [Jacobson et al. The analysis can be done using natural languages and tables or visual techniques such as those described in Chapter 4. One problem with using natural language is that the set of use cases describing viable business processes makes up a graphical structure that is not well represented by text documents.

    For example, two different use cases might use or include the same use case Figure 3. Furthermore, as we interact with the customers or stakeholders, the number of use cases can grow rapidly. If the use cases are kept in text files, document management issues can arise. With graphical models, it is a relatively simple matter to make changes, since the CASE tool handles the updating of other diagrams. Scenario diagrams take the place of tabular descriptions of activities see Figure 3. With text, a crosscutting change can involve heavy manual effort to keep primary and alternate use cases across all relevant documents up-to-date, especially going into the activity tables and changing steps and responses.

    More information about model-driven requirements engineering and the effective use of graphical modeling techniques can be found in the next chapter. They are different in that rather than defining a fixed customer need, they describe the implementation of a customer policy that may be changed by the customer after delivery of a product or system. Hence they describe a special category of user-implemented extensibility. A business can enact, revise, and discontinue the business rules that govern and guide it. A business policy is an element of governance that is not directly enforceable, whose purpose is to guide an enterprise.

    Compared to a business rule, a business policy tends to be less structured; i. Customer-specific business rules must be kept separate from regular requirements at least logically, using database tags or attributes , since they are not requirements. However, customer requirements can be derived from the business rules; the requirements may look different than the rules that they derive from. What Are Their Characteristics? It is mandatory that the customer have the ability to alter the rules without system or product modification. Detailed rules explain under what circumstances e.

    Note in the preceding example, the hospital may, at any time, change the age at which a patient is considered a child, as well as the rules governing the emergency check-in of a child without parental consent. The relationships among business policies, rules, and requirements are illustrated in Figure 3. Both the consumer and the supplier need to have an ongoing understanding of the product. It may be necessary to continually interact with the customer to maintain good relations and keep the customer informed; e. Project management should never go into denial over issues such as delivery dates.

    Rather, open and frequent communication with the client can usually prevent more severe difficulties from occurring later. Furthermore, it may be necessary to secure customer cooperation in order to get access to domain expertise. It is our experience that constant communication with the customer is essential for a positive outcome.

    There may be a tendency on some projects to elicit the requirements and then forget about the customer until the factory acceptance test. Doing so is a mistake, as the potential for misunderstandings widens significantly as a project progresses. Keeping the customer up-to-date on progress, demonstrating features e. It must be planned, it must be managed properly, and speedy follow-up on open issues is essential. While every organization or group has its own way of doing things, we have found that certain activities are essential to achieving a positive outcome.

    Planning Elicitation Sessions In order for elicitation sessions to be successful, they must be planned. Planning includes setting up the framework for conducting the sessions, managing the output of the sessions, and defining completion. We offer these suggestions: 1. Set up a schedule of elicitation sessions.

    Since diverse domain expertise may be needed, sessions need to be defined for capturing needs based on the expertise needed for each domain that is in scope. For example, in sessions to define a new insurance system, it might be necessary to capture the needs of marketing, sales, underwriting, accounting, etc. Since the people who would be participating are usually critical to the operation of an organization and access to them may be limited, the schedule may need to be carefully defined. Chapter 3: Eliciting Requirements 65 2. Define the venue and the media. This includes where the sessions will be held, as well as any audiovisual techniques used e.

    The format for capturing the results of each elicitation session needs to be defined. Capture mechanisms may include a requirements database viewed using a browser or the database screens , Excel spreadsheets, modeling tools, or other electronic capture mechanisms. Define standards, schemas, and processes prior to the start of the elicitation sessions. It is important that any information captured be properly identified including the stakeholder , partitioned level , and identified as to type or other project characteristics, at the time of capture.

    Once the requests start to be added, it will be very difficult to go back and revisit the tagging of requirements. In order to have an electronic system set up to properly capture the relevant request or requirement attributes e. Furthermore, having guidelines for conducting elicitation sessions will help in soliciting the cooperation of stakeholders or domain experts to provide the needed information at the time of elicitation. Provide a clearly defined agenda for each elicitation session, with the role of each attendee clearly understood. The agenda should be feasible and reasonable given the duration and the people present.

    Finally, action items should be recorded and assigned with short due dates and careful follow-up. Arrange for a senior manager on the customer side to participate in the elicitation sessions. While it may be difficult to convince clients or customers to have one of their senior stakeholders participate, it may be the only way to ensure that customer-provided domain experts actually show up at the meetings and cooperate.

    Not that they will be unwilling to participate, but the priorities of the manager of a domain expert may be quite different than those of the project manager for the product under design; they may be in different organizations or companies. Consequently, when pulling in domain experts, their presence may not be guaranteed without the participation of a senior manager in their organization. If necessary, arrange for someone on the customer side the senior manager mentioned above may suffice to set up the schedule and manage it.

    Hold sessions in the morning, if feasible, and schedule them to last half a day. People tend to tire a bit over time, and about four hours or less is best for sustaining high productivity. In addition, work will be generated outside of the elicitation session see the next item , and it is recommended that assigned work be completed the same day that the session was held.

    If heavy writing is assigned during an elicitation session, have it done offline, preferably the afternoon that the session was completed. This includes definitions, descriptions of processes, and so on. Text can then be reviewed the following morning or offline at a later date. Preferably, find a venue where everyone can see the same thing at the same time. Whether looking at text or graphics, all the attendees should be seeing the same information. If you are able to have the relevant stakeholders in the room during the elicitation session, the requirements review process can be shortened, since the reviewers were present during the elicitation session.

    Chunk reviews of work. Reviews are best done online, with everyone reviewing a reasonably small amount of material together. When that is not feasible, the review of material should be partitioned, so that only the relevant stakeholders see the material they need to review, and the amount of material to be reviewed is kept small. Keep reviews of elicitation sessions short and immediate. When reviewing the output of an elicitation session, we normally conduct the reviews the same afternoon, not later than one or two days after the session before the domain experts vanish back into their environments.

    Keep attendance at an elicitation session as contrasted with a brainstorming session, where everyone possible is in the room small, no more than six to eight people. It is always better to have two domain experts than one. Three subject matter experts in the same session may or may not be effective, depending on their interpersonal dynamics. To summarize, conducting elicitation sessions may require a significant planning effort, depending on the scope of the project.

    Furthermore, if any needed standards, procedures, and tools are in place prior to the start of the elicitation sessions, rework will be minimized and the sessions will proceed more smoothly. With proper planning, it is possible to generate function point counts from sets of requirements or an analysis model. For example, if use cases are annotated with the appropriate information, a function point count estimate can be generated by walking the directed graph of the underlying model.

    Software requirements automation can play an important role in software requirements estimation. The Bachman Analyst Workbench developed in and the Texas Instruments Information Engineering Facility IEF developed in the early s both provided automatic derivation of function point metrics from software requirements. In this situation, elicitation and analysis can be a continuation of previous efforts, with new requests and requirements recorded using the appropriate database attributes to permit partitioning of the requirement sets.

    The latter situation tends to be quite common; e. When this occurs, it may not be feasible to reverse-engineer a full requirement set, but rather, only the new requirements can be captured. Depending on the project type, advanced techniques such as dynamic tracing [Cleland-Huang ] can be used to assist with impact analysis.

    Some general suggestions when defining the requirements for incremental improvement to a system for which requirements do not exist are: 1. Where cost effective, reverse-engineer a set of high-level requirements and use it as a starting point.

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    • User guides and help files are an excellent source of such requirements. Identify any programmatic interfaces, document them, and treat them as new requirements. Be sure to review all new requirements, considering downward compatibility and the sensitivities of users. It is not intended to be inclusive, but rather to provide a starting point. If possible, have key stakeholders participate in any ranking activity.

      When that is not feasible, the review of material should be partitioned, so that only the relevant stakeholders see the material they need to review, and the amount of material to be reviewed is kept small, short, and immediate. Whatever methods are used, the analysts eliciting the needs, goals, or requirements should be trained in the techniques they will be using. Furthermore, the elicitation process will be more productive and execute more smoothly if process, methods, and capture mechanisms are well defined, documented, and communicated to the participating stakeholders prior to the start of the elicitation sessions.

      Furthermore, being a project lead analyst or facilitator is an art in itself, requiring the ability to get diverse stakeholders to follow an agenda without deviation, and drive the elicitation process smoothly to completion in the allotted time Figure 3. When and how should stakeholder requests be reviewed? How large should a requirements elicitation session meeting be? What are some of the differences between a brainstorming session and a requirements elicitation session? References Agar, M. Akao, Y. Beck, K. Berry, D. Brooks, F.

      Carlson, P. Clegg, B. Cleland-Huang, J. Conway Correll, L. Dardenne, A. Chapter 3: Eliciting Requirements 71 Gane, C. Jacobson, I. Kano, N. Karlsson, J. Mikel, H. Instructors: choose ebook for fast access or receive a print copy. Still Have Questions? Contact your Rep s.

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      Chapter 1: Software Requirements

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