Managing Requirements Change the Informal Way! When Saying 'No' Is Not an Option
Hussain, W; Zowghi, D; Clear, T; MacDonell, SG; Blincoe, K
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Software has always been considered as malleable. Changes to software requirements are inevitable during the development process. Despite many software engineering advances over several decades, requirements changes are a source of project risk, particularly when businesses and technologies are evolving rapidly. Although effectively managing requirements changes is a critical aspect of software engineering, conceptions of requirements change in the literature and approaches to their management in practice still seem rudimentary. The overall goal of this study is to better understand the process of requirements change management. We present findings from an exploratory case study of requirements change management in a globally distributed setting. In this context we noted a contrast with the traditional models of requirements change. In theory, change control policies and formal processes are considered as a natural strategy to deal with requirements changes. Yet we observed that "informal requirements changes" (InfRc) were pervasive and unavoidable. Our results reveal an equally 'natural' informal change management process that is required to handle InfRc in parallel. We present a novel model of requirements change which, we argue, better represents the phenomenon and more realistically incorporates both the informal and formal types of change.