Empirical study of Sommerville and Sawyer's requirements engineering practices

Karl Cox, Mahmood Niazi, June Verner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Practices in seven key areas from requirements engineering (RE) good practice guide are examined via in-depth interviews with ten Australian software development organisations. Our objective is to provide a better understanding of the relative perceived value of the RE practices investigated and to provide an initial assessment of the appropriateness of Sommerville and Sawyer's three classification levels. We used in-depth interviews as our main approach to collecting data. We assessed practices as either standardised use, normal use, used at the discretion of project manager or never used. We found that the single most standardised, or valuable, practice for 1) documentation, was making a business case of a project, for 2) elicitation, it was assessing system feasibility, 3) for analysis and negotiation, it was defining system boundaries, 4) for requirements description, it was to specify requirements quantitatively and to define standard templates for requirements, 5) for system modelling, it was to use a data dictionary, 6) for validation, it was to propose test cases, and 7) for management, it was to define a change management process. We suggest Sommerville and Sawyer's classification of basic, intermediate and advanced practices needs some reconsideration to bring his list into alignment with current industry practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-355
Number of pages17
JournalIET Software
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


  • Australian software development organisation
  • change management process
  • data dictionary
  • documentation
  • requirement description
  • requirements engineering
  • system modelling


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