Requirements Engineering that Balances Agility of Teams and System-level Information Needs at Scale

Abstract: Context: Motivated by their success in software development, large-scale systems development companies are increasingly adopting agile methods and their practices. Such companies need to accommodate different development cycles of hardware and software and are usually subject to regulation and safety concerns. Also, for such companies, requirements engineering is an essential activity that involves upfront and detailed analysis which can be at odds with agile development methods. Objective: The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate the challenges and solution candidates of performing effective requirements engineering in an agile environment, based on empirical evidence. Illustrated with studies on safety and system-level information needs, we explore RE challenges and solutions in large-scale agile development, both in general and from the teams’ perspectives. Method: To meet our aim, we performed a secondary study and a series of empirical studies based on case studies. We collected qualitative data using interviews, focus groups and workshops to derive challenges and potential solutions from industry. Findings: Our findings show that there are numerous challenges of conducting requirements engineering in agile development especially where systems development is concerned. The challenges discovered sprout from an integration problem of working with agile methods while relying on established plan-driven processes for the overall system. We highlight the communication challenge of crossing the boundary of agile methods and system-level (or plan-driven) development, which also proves the coexistence of both methods. Conclusions: Our results highlight the painful areas of requirements engineering in agile development and propose solutions that can be explored further. This thesis contributes to future research, by establishing a holistic map of challenges and candidate solutions that can be further developed to make RE more efficient within agile environments.