Requirements Engineering

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 383–403 | Cite as

Patterns of continuous requirements clarification

  • Eric Knauss
  • Daniela Damian
  • Jane Cleland-Huang
  • Remko Helms
Original Article


In software projects involving large and often distributed teams, requirements evolve through the collaboration of many stakeholders, supported by online tools such as mailing lists, bug tracking systems, or online discussion forums. In this collaboration, requirements typically evolve from initial ideas, through clarification, to the implementation of a stable requirement. Deviations from this expected course might indicate requirements that are poorly understood, need further negotiation, or better alignment with project goals. If not addressed timely, such problems can surface late in the development cycle with negative consequences such as rework, missed schedules, or overrun budget. This paper presents an approach that provides project managers’ with timely awareness of such requirements-related risks, based on automatic analysis of stakeholders’ online requirement communication. We describe a clarification classifier that automatically analyzes requirements communication in a project and detects clarification events, a catalog of clarification patterns, and a pattern matcher that suggests communication patterns based on our pattern catalog. Our approach has been empirically constructed and evaluated in a case study in the \(\hbox {IBM}^{\circledR }\) Rational Team \(\hbox {Concert}^\circledR\) project. We discuss the applicability of our approach in other projects as well as avenues for extending our pattern catalog toward a theory of clarification patterns.


Requirements clarification patterns Distributed requirements engineering Communication of requirements Continuous requirements engineering 



We thank the RTC team members and managers who provided clarifications on our dataset when needed, and later participated in our interviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Knauss
    • 1
  • Daniela Damian
    • 2
  • Jane Cleland-Huang
    • 3
  • Remko Helms
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringChalmers | University of GothenburgGöteborgSweden
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  3. 3.DePaul University ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Information and Computing SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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