The University of Sussex

Communication problems in requirements engineering: a field study

Amer Al-Rawas, Steve Easterbrook

The requirements engineering phase of software development projects is characterised by the intensity and importance of communication activities. During this phase, the various stakeholders must be able to communicate their requirements to the analysts, and the analysts need to be able to communicate the specifications they generate back to the stakeholders for validation. This paper describes a field investigation into the problems of communication between disparate communities involved in the requirements specification activities. The results of this study are discussed in terms of their relation to three major communication barriers: 1) ineffectiveness of the current communication channels; 2) restrictions on expressiveness imposed by notations; and 3) social and organisational barriers. The results confirm that organisational and social issues have great influence on the effectiveness of communication. They also show that in general endusers find the notations used by software practitioners to model their requirements difficult to understand and validate.

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