LinkReq: Toward Requirement Elicitation Based on Stakeholder Involvement

1. Introduction

Requirements elicitation is a critical activity of the information systems development life cycle because the requirements are the heart of information systems development, and they determine how the system will operate [13]. Stakeholders (i.e. any person, group or organization who can affect positively or negatively on the project success [20]) are the source of the requirements. Missing some of stakeholders involvement can rise to miss some of the requirements, and makes the project fail [20]. Stakeholder involvement is a challenge. The traditional techniques, such as interviews, workshops, and focus groups require direct interaction with stakeholder. This can take a lot of effort and time, especially when we need to gather requirements for a large group of stakeholder. In addition, they are not appropriate when our stakeholders are geographically distributed.

Today we have moved towards a more socially connected society [2]. The usage of Social Media today is growing faster than any before. It’s spanning from socializing with friends to an involvement between the persons inside the companies and institutions [3]. Social Media is a powerful tool for user engagement [6]. Social Media has been used for service evaluation and understanding the user need. In addition, it used by many companies to get their customer feedback and suggestions to build a better product or service, or for improving some product and services [6]. Furthermore, many companies today use Social Media to enhance communication and collaboration between their employees who are geographically distributed.

Social networking is a web 2.0 technologies using to build a social network and relations among people [10]. It viewed as more important than last year’s [9]. It also plays a crucial role in connecting people and builds relationships in an easy way and timely manner [11]. It is seen as a promising tool that most people prefer using in communication and interaction [10]. In addition, it considers as the most popular tools which most users are familiar with [12].

There are assorted attributes supporters by Social Network, which can improve the stakeholder involvements. These attributes include: Openness (Get the stakeholder feedback in a short time), Interaction (Stakeholder can comment, voting, send feedback), Collaboration (Idea and content creation), Immediacy (Stakeholder can real-time communication and get feedback in a short time), and Connectedness (Stakeholder participate from their own device from any location) [16].

Involving stakeholders in requirement elicitation using the Social Network has been subject by multiple research tools such as StakeSource [17], Requirement Bazaar [18], and WinBook [19]. However, these tools still have a limitation. Some of them have missed some of the important features which can facilitate stakeholder involvement such as tagging, chat session, and notification; some of them have a limitation in user experience which can affect negatively on the learning curve; some of them are not supported for smartphone screen which can affect negatively on the number of stakeholders who can involve. Furthermore, these tools still don’t support an API for integration purposes. Another study [21] has focused on using the popular social network to support the requirement elicitation. However, there is still a privacy concern. Public social network such as Facebook, Google and Twitter today have more power than any government. They can know everything about us, what we like, dislike, our secret conversation, how we feel, what we, and who we talk [1].

In this article we propose a new tool title as “LinkReq”, to allow stakeholder who geographically distributed to involve during the early stage of the software development life cycle. Moreover, we proposed a new methodology facilitate and manage stakeholder involvement using the LinkReq tool.

2. LinkReq and Requirement Elicitation

LinkReq is an Internet-based social network using web 2.0 technologies. It is used at the early stage of the software development life cycle, to allow stakeholder who geographically distributed to involve during the requirement elicitation.

LinkReq support many features (see section. 4 bellow) which are used to facilitate stakeholder interaction and collaboration during the requirement gathering, prioritization and negotiation activities. The below figure mapping the LinkReq features with requirement elicitation tasks.

LinkReq contains two characteristic for facilitating stakeholders’ involvement:

  1. LinkReq design as popular social network in order to improve the stakeholder experience and decreasing the learning curve.
  2. LinkReq is responsive web application, so it can access from any device at any time. So that it can allow a large number of potential stakeholders to involve.

4. Involvement Process

It is a new methodology to facilitate stakeholders’ involvement during the requirement elicitation. It is a set of activity in each activity there is a set of features which can be used to facilitate stakeholder involvement. The process starts by identifying a set of stakeholders and ends with a list of requirements.

The process starts by creating a new project, which done by defining the project name and goal. In the second activity, an initial set of Stakeholders is invited to participate during the whole process. During the process, the initial set of stakeholder can update by inviting more candidate stakeholders whose involvement are important.

At third activity, stakeholder starts adding their goals. Where there are different types of formats, which can be used including:

The categorization is important for grouping the stakeholders’ needs for example: Function and non-functional requirement. To categorize a specific comment, by embedding one or more hashtag into that comment.

The final activity is concerning with negotiating and prioritization. On the one hand, negotiation is concerning with collaboration between stakeholders to extend user goal and attaching new options such as new scenarios, ideas, or suggestions; stakeholder can adding emoji to express their emotions. In addition, they can use the mention to invite other stakeholders into the discussion.

On the other hand, prioritization concerning defining the most important needs. It’s done by voting the user need regarding their business perspective.

The process is iterative, at each time there is a new idea being added, categorized, and negotiated & prioritized. This process repeated until we get a list of requirements which have accepted by stakeholders. The real-time notification keep stakeholders informed of what is happening during the whole process.

4.1 Stakeholder Rules

In order to manage stakeholders’ interaction and collaboration, we proposed a group of rules stakeholders can be follow during the process. These rules as following:

Hero: represents the person who needs to achieve their goals from the project such as a business user, end-user. The Hero can add a reply, voting, and add mention and emotion.

Mentor represent the person who will gather stakeholders’ needs, in a specific format e.g. user story. Mentor task starts by creating the project, inviting an initial set of stakeholder, and start gathering their needs, and collaborate with them during negotiations and prioritization to get a list of requirements which is prioritized and accepted by stakeholders. An example of Mentors such as requirement engineer, or the project manager.

Guardian: Guardian responsible for managing the process, and supporting stakeholder. The guardian does this by helping everyone understand process theory, practices, rules, and values. An example of the Guardian is the Scrum Master in agile.

Allies: represent the persons who will participate in the project in the next phases such as design, development, testing and so on. An example of the Allies such as DevOps, developer, QA, and UI/UX designer.

3. LinkReq and Usability

LinkReq contains many characteristics See Fig.4:

4. LinkReq Features

LinkReq contains a group of features to facilitate stakeholders’ communication and collaboration see the below figure:

5. Why LinkReq?

Geographically stakeholder involvement: LinkReq contains many of features which help stakeholders to involve during the requirement elicitation process.

Idea and content creation: LinkReq allows Stakeholder to share their needs/goals as post (i.e. Text, Image or video).

Idea discussion: LinkReq supports voting, and reply on post to allowing more discussion and refinement.

Get the stakeholder feedback in a short time: For each task such as adding post, adding reply, voting, and sending message LinkReq will send a notification for project member, so that they can get feedback in short time .

Real-time communication: LinkReq supports real time chat session which allows stakeholder to communicate simultaneously.

You are the Data Owner: You are LinkReq data owner. Your data is not shared with third parties, and there is no one can manipulate or exploited for other purposes.

No Privacy Concern: There is no privacy concern by using LinkReq. There is no centralized entity can monitor your private interaction and communication.

No Policies Restrictions: There is no one can restrict you to follow certain policies, which can adversely affect your community goals.

Integration: LinkReq supports a web service which allows you to get any project information as JSON format, so that you can integrate with other tools and achieve your goals.

Some of LinkReq Screenshots

To download LinkReq Click here




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Senior Software Engineer who is interested to develop a software product which can help people to achieve their goals, and make their life much better.