Industry Talks

Can Agile RE Navigate the Scope-Time-Cost Triangle for Mobile Phones?, Elizabeth Bjarnason

Abstract: The mobile phone market is highly competitive. Market success requires both selecting the ‘right’ product scope, and developing that scope quickly and efficiently. Time to market is vital. In addition, the fast moving pace of the market requires an ability to quickly adapt and redirect projects and engineers to new and changed requirements. To match these challenges and enable a shorter turn-around time from request to launch, principles from agile development methods are often adopted, also for large and complex development involving both software and hardware. But, are the agile methods sufficient to handle the complexity of multiple hardware and software parts and layers in a cost efficient way and against firm deadlines of factory production lines and launch campaigns planned many months in advance? In particular, are agile requirements engineering practices sufficient to guide and support phone development, while managing a large number of both internal and external stakeholders? The scope needs to be defined to satisfy the market. The lead times need to be short and both fit and ensure delivery within the time lines defined by the product plans. Furthermore, scope and time needs to be optimized while keeping the cost of development under control. I.e. are the practices and principles of agile RE sufficient to navigate the aspects of scope, lead time and cost of development?

Elizabeth Bjarnason is a process engineer at Sony. She is part of the process team responsible for the processes for developing software for Sony’s Xperia phones, and mainly responsible for the requirements aspects of those processes. She has a long and wide experience within the company’s software development organization and has worked with software design, programming, project management, standardization, as well as, requirements for the software of mobile phones. Prior to joining Sony (previously Sony Ericsson and Ericsson Mobile Communications), she worked with developing educational software and smaller database applications, as well as, doing research into tool support for domain-specific languages. Through her experience of working with requirements as an integrated part of large-scale software development she has become interested in the area of Requirements Engineering and is currently working with the Software Engineering Research Group (SERG) at Lund University. Her main research interests are integrated and agile requirements engineering, including alignment between requirements and verification & validation.

Benchmarks, Problems, and Trends in the RE Community, Adrian Zwingli

Abstract: Many executives and organizations have realized and acknowledged the importance of requirements engineering (RE). First steps have been taken, but many more hurdles have to be overcome.

This talk looks at the current state of RE from a practitioner’s point of view, analyzes the problems industry has to take on, and shows what the trends and needs of the RE community are. SwissQ’s recent community survey with 300 respondents, enhanced with 25 interviews with IT executives, gives interesting insights into the actual state of practice. We investigate why only 25% of the respondents see RE in their projects as good, how much effort is spent on RE in relation to the total project cost, and why acceptance of RE is still low. We discuss the expectations of stakeholders towards the RE community, how they affect the success of projects and organizations, and what academia can contribute to improve the state of RE practice.

Adrian Zwingli has been working in IT for over 13 years. Adrian pioneered the Swiss Requirements Day in Zurich, a community-driven not-for-profit one-day event with over 550 attendees, and the Swiss Requirements Nights held in several cities over the year. Being the local publicity coordinator of ICSE 2012, which will take place in Zurich June 2 – 9 2012, he serves to bridge the gap between the academic and practice world. Adrian is Chairman of the Swiss Requirements Day and Swiss Testing Day and founder and CEO of SwissQ. He holds an MBA in General Management.

Authoring Natural Language Requirements with the Easy Approach to Requirements Syntax Plus (EARS+) Notation, Alistair Mavin

Abstract: Black box system requirements are often written in unconstrained natural language, which is inherently imprecise. During system development, any problems in system requirements inevitably propagate to lower levels. This creates unnecessary volatility and risk, which impact programme schedule and cost. To mitigate this problem, there is a need to provide simple, practical guidance for authors of natural language requirements. Easy Approach to Requirements Syntax (EARS) is a philosophy for authoring natural language requirements through the application of a template with an underlying ruleset. EARS has proved popular with practitioners because it is lightweight, there is little training overhead, and the resultant requirements are easy to read.

In practice, requirements authoring is usually an iterative process; first-pass requirements can be quite a simple description of required system behaviour, whilst subsequent iterations are used to add detail. EARS is an effective mechanism for the expression of simple requirements, but does not adequately define precise, rigorous requirements. To address these shortcomings, the enhanced EARS+ template has been developed. EARS+ provides a mechanism to vary the level of detail in natural language requirements during iterative requirements authoring. The requirement author can add attributes such as stakeholder, action and object, which have defined syntax. This produces a precise description of the required system behaviour. The practitioner can choose which clauses to apply, thereby tailoring each requirement to the appropriate level of detail, whilst maintaining the readability of natural language.

This presentation will introduce the EARS+ template, illustrate with examples of both simple and detailed requirements and discuss the benefits of adopting the approach.

Alistair Mavin (Mav) is a requirements specialist at Rolls-Royce PLC based in Derby, UK. Prior to joining Rolls-Royce he carried out systems engineering and requirements engineering projects in a range of industries including defence, aerospace, rail and automotive. He has experience in the development and delivery of requirements engineering training.

Mav has published many papers on requirements engineering and is a regular contributor to the IEEE “RE” conference series. He is a member of the “RE” conference series Industry Committee, a member of the British Computer Society’s Requirements Engineering Specialist Group Committee and is a chartered engineer.

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