The impact of stakeholders' geographical distribution on managing requirements in a multi-site organization

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering, 2002, 2002-January pp. 319 - 328
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© 2002 IEEE. The increasing globalization of software industry demands an investigation of requirements engineering (RE) in multisite software development organizations. Requirements engineering is a task difficult enough when done locally-but it is even more difficult when cross-functional stakeholder groups specify requirements across cultural, language and time zone boundaries. This paper reports on a field study that investigated RE challenges introduced by stakeholders' geographical distribution in a multi-site organization. The goal was to examine RE practice in global software development, to formulate recommendations for improvement as well as to provide directions for future research on methods and tools. Based on the empirical evidence, we have constructed a model of how remote communication and knowledge management, cultural diversity and time differences negatively impact on requirements gathering, negotiation and specification. Findings reveal that aspects such as a lack of a common understanding of requirements, together with reduced awareness of working local context, trust level and ability to share work artifacts significantly challenge the effective collaboration of remote stakeholders in negotiating a set of requirements that satisfies geographically distributed customers. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving RE practice in this setting.
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