Sources of Software Requirements Change from the Perspectives of Development and Maintenance

S. McGee, Desmond Greer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changes to software requirements occur during initial development and subsequent to delivery, posing a risk to cost and quality while at the same time providing an opportunity to add value. Provision of a generic change source taxonomy will support requirements change risk visibility, and also facilitate richer recording of both pre- and post-delivery change data. In this paper we present a collaborative study to investigate and classify sources of requirements change, drawing comparison between those pertaining to software development and maintenance. We begin by combining evolution, maintenance and software lifecycle research to derive a definition of software maintenance, which provides the foundation for empirical context and comparison. Previously published change ‘causes’ pertaining to development are elicited from the literature, consolidated using expert knowledge and classified using card sorting. A second study incorporating causes of requirements change during software maintenance results in a taxonomy which accounts for the entire evolutionary progress of applications software. We conclude that the distinction between the terms maintenance and development is imprecise, and that changes to requirements in both scenarios arise due to a combination of factors contributing to requirements uncertainty and events that trigger change. The change trigger taxonomy constructs were initially validated using a small set of requirements change data, and deemed sufficient and practical as a means to collect common requirements change statistics across multiple projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-200
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal on Advances in Software
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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