Requirements Engineering

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 93–102 | Cite as

Negotiating and Understanding Information Systems Requirements: The Use of Set Diagrams

  • W. Al-Karaghouli
  • S. AlShawi
  • G. Fitzgerald

A major contributor to the failure of information technology-based systems is the problem of understanding user or customer requirements in the initial analysis and requirements identification stage of development. This paper identifies and describes an approach to help overcome some of these problems, particularly the mismatch or understanding gap between the customer and the developer. The approach is intended to be used at the early stages of requirement determination and introduces techniques from operational research into the process. In particular set theory and Venn diagrams are used as a way of graphically representing the relationships and gaps in understanding that may exist. The benefit obtained from the use of the technique is partly in the graphical representations themselves but mainly in the dialogue and negotiation that result from the construction of the diagrams. The technique has been developed in a research study of retail organisations’ use of information technology in the UK and an example case study from the sector is used to illustrate and discuss the technique.

Key words: Information systems development – Information technology – Knowledge gap – Mappings – Negotiation – Operational research – Set theory – Specifications – Understanding requirements – User requirements – Venn diagrams 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Al-Karaghouli
    • 1
  • S. AlShawi
    • 2
  • G. Fitzgerald
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Westminster, London, UKGB
  2. 2.Brunel University, Uxbridge, UKGB

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