A comparison of Problem Frames, a problem-based method, and KAOS, a goal-based method, for Requirements Analysis within a financial environment

Doran, Michele (2006). A comparison of Problem Frames, a problem-based method, and KAOS, a goal-based method, for Requirements Analysis within a financial environment. Student dissertation for The Open University module M801 MSc in Software Development Research Dissertation.

Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0001603c


This research reviews the two Requirement Analysis methods of Problem Frames and KAOS and then applies them to a case study within a financial environment. Both methods focus on the problem domain and have techniques to ensure that the task of Requirements Analysis is carried out in a logical manner that should help to produce complete, consistent and unambiguous requirements. The intention of the research is to make recommendations and produce guidelines for use within financial environments to help to improve the quality of requirements specifications. Specific characteristics of financial environments are reviewed to determine what makes them require special attention in comparison to other, more mechanical environments. As well as general characteristics applicable to all environments, specific characteristics were found that do require special focus. These are complexity of functionality, adaptability to changing requirements to comply with laws and regulations, keeping a competitive edge by delivering quickly to meet the demands of the market and finally, the existence of legacy systems. Existing literature covering the two methods is reviewed to analyse previous descriptions of their application and the advantages and disadvantages experienced. The application to a case study then allowed the comparison of these findings with first hand experience in a financial environment. The similarities were many showing that the advantages of a particular method did carry into the financial environment, although many disadvantages did as well. The requirements specifications produced during the two methods were reviewed by experienced designers /analysts and system testers and their feedback incorporated into the conclusions of the study. Using the full set of conclusions, guidelines and recommendations have been produced, reviewed and then refined. The key findings, that aim to address the financial environment's specific characteristics, are that at specific stages the models and analysis of the requirements should be reviewed with the key stakeholders to try to address the issue of complexity and that the financial environment should keep a catalogued and classified store of past experience to encourage reuse in the early stages of the development lifecycle to aid the delivery time of required software. Problem Frames and KAOS both support these processes but it may be a combination of the two methods which provides the best approach to Requirements Analysis in a financial environment. Although the research is based on a single-case study, the results and conclusions have been made for all financial environments by drawing on their general characteristics. The resulting guidelines are hoped to be of use to improve Requirements Analysis within financial environments.

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