A Pattern-Based Approach to Changing Software Requirements in Brown-Field Business Contexts

Brier, John (2011). A Pattern-Based Approach to Changing Software Requirements in Brown-Field Business Contexts. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000887f


In organisations, competitive advantage is increasingly reliant on the alignment of sociotechnical systems with business processes. 'Socio-technical' refers to the complex systems of people, tasks and technology. Supporting this alignment is exacerbated by the speed of technological change and its relationship with organisation growth. This complexity is further aggravated in a number of ways. Organisations and/or parts of organisations are structured differently and have different approaches to change. These differences impact on their responsiveness to change, their use of technology, and its relationship to business processes. In requirements engineering, a lack of understanding of the organisational context in which change takes place has been a problem over the last decade. Eliciting requirements is complex, with requirements changing constantly. Delivered change is affected by further changing needs, as stakeholders identify new ways of using IT. Changing requirements can lead to mismatches between tasks, technology and people. Relations and their alignment can be compromised. We contribute to understanding this complex domain by presenting an approach which engages with stakeholders/users in the early stages of the requirements elicitation process. The two expressions of the approach are derived from the literature and 19 real-world studies. They are referred to as Conceptual Framework and Change Frame. Both support a problem-centred focus on context analysis when reasoning about changing technology in business processes. The framework provides structures, techniques, notation and terminology. These represent, describe, and analyse the context in which change takes place, in the present and over time. The Change Frame combines an extension of the framework with an organisation pattern. It facilitates representing, describing and analysing change, across the strategic/operation area of an organisation. A known pattern of solution is provided, for the recurring change problem of representing an organisation-wide change in different organisation locations. Chapter 4 shows the conceptual framework in the context of a real-world study, and chapter 6 uses a real-world use/case scenario to illustrate the change frame. Both chapters show support for understanding change, through client/customer and stakeholder/users reasoning about the implications of change.

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