Naming the pain in requirements engineering: Contemporary problems, causes, and effects in practice

D. Mendez Fernandez, S. Wagner, M. Kalinowski, M. Felderer, P. Mafra, A. Vetro, T. Conte, M.-T. Christiansson, D. Greer, C. Lassenius, Tomi M., M. Nayabi, M. Oivo, B. Penzenstadler, D. Pfahl, R. Prikladnicki, G. Ruhe, A. Schekelmann, S. Sen, R. SpinolaA. Tuzcu, J. L. de la Vara, R. Wieringa

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Requirements Engineering (RE) has received much attention in research and practice due to its importance to software project success. Its inter-disciplinary nature, the dependency to the customer, and its inherent uncertainty still render the discipline diffcult to investigate. This results in a lack of empirical data. These are necessary, however, to demonstrate which practically relevant RE problems exist and to what extent they matter. Motivated by this situation, we initiated the Naming the Pain in Requirements Engineering (NaPiRE) initiative which constitutes a globally distributed, bi-yearly replicated family of surveys on the status quo and problems in practical RE.

In this article, we report on the analysis of data obtained from 228 companies in 10 countries. We apply Grounded Theory to the data obtained from NaPiRE and reveal which contemporary problems practitioners encounter. To this end, we analyse 21 problems derived from the literature with respect to their relevance and criticality in dependency to their context, and we complement this picture with a cause-effect analysis showing the causes and effects surrounding the most critical problems.

Our results give us a better understanding of which problems exist and how they manifest themselves in practical environments. Thus, we provide a rst step to ground contributions to RE on empirical observations which, by now, were dominated by conventional wisdom only.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2298-2338
Number of pages41
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number5
Early online date24 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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