The increasing globalisation of the software industry demands an investigation of requirements engineering (RE) in multi-site software development organisations. 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 the stakeholders' geographical distribution in a multi-site organisation. The goal was to examine RE practices in global software development, and 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 requirements gathering, negotiations and specifications. Findings reveal that aspects such as a lack of a common understanding of requirements, together with a reduced awareness of a working local context, a trust level and an ability to share work artefacts 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 practices in this setting.
Communication problemsGlobal software developmentRequirements engineeringRequirements managementRequirements process