What is Requirements Acquisition?

Requirements engineers face a major problem when choosing methods for
acquiring requirements of software-intensive systems. The problem is not that
there is a lack of methods, since a wide range exists from the ethnographic to
the constructivist. Rather, no guidance is available to choose methods, to plan
a systematic, well-grounded acquisition programme, or even to sequence
methods. Indeed, many requirements engineers are unaware of the methods
which are available. This paper describes a framework for such a purpose.
Requirements engineers are familiar with methods such as observation,
interviewing and using documentation. However, each is insufficient in
isolation to capture complete requirements. Consider an example of a real
software system to plan vehicle loading which one of the authors observed. A
large system specification had been developed from existing documentation.
However, several minutes of direct observation revealed to a team of software
engineers that a process which they had assumed to be completely regular
could, in fact, speed up and become dangerous. A new requirement to warn
the user when this happened was complicated by further observed
phenomena such as extreme glare, loud noises and extreme vibration. This
lecture argues that more than one acquisition method is needed to capture the
full range of complex requirements for most complex software-intensive
systems. One assumption is that effective requirements acquisition is not
simply a by-product of using existing structured methods and notations. Rather
the ACRE framework provides guidelines for selecting from a broad range of
different methods with different features from different backgrounds.
ACRE recognises that there is a shift away from a view the process as
one of requirements elicitation to one of requirements acquisition, and
even requirements negotiation. In simple terms ,we do not see
requirements as being ‘out there’, to be captured in our requirements
butterfly net. Rather, requirements are poorly defined at the beginning
of the systems development process, and ultimately have to be
negotiated as part of an agreed document which is the requirements
specification. This version of ACRE precludes negotiation and
meditation techniques, but does put the focus on requirements
acquisition techniques which enable the stakeholder to discover and
elaborate their definition of requirements during one or more acquisition
processes. The result is that there are more techniques available for
requirements acquisition, as the tutorial demonstrates.

Reference: Reference: Neil Maiden (2011) Requirements Engineering Lecture Notes

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