Empirical Software Engineering

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1809–1855 | Cite as

Challenges and practices in aligning requirements with verification and validation: a case study of six companies

  • Elizabeth BjarnasonEmail author
  • Per Runeson
  • Markus Borg
  • Michael Unterkalmsteiner
  • Emelie Engström
  • Björn Regnell
  • Giedre Sabaliauskaite
  • Annabella Loconsole
  • Tony Gorschek
  • Robert Feldt


Weak alignment of requirements engineering (RE) with verification and validation (VV) may lead to problems in delivering the required products in time with the right quality. For example, weak communication of requirements changes to testers may result in lack of verification of new requirements and incorrect verification of old invalid requirements, leading to software quality problems, wasted effort and delays. However, despite the serious implications of weak alignment research and practice both tend to focus on one or the other of RE or VV rather than on the alignment of the two. We have performed a multi-unit case study to gain insight into issues around aligning RE and VV by interviewing 30 practitioners from 6 software developing companies, involving 10 researchers in a flexible research process for case studies. The results describe current industry challenges and practices in aligning RE with VV, ranging from quality of the individual RE and VV activities, through tracing and tools, to change control and sharing a common understanding at strategy, goal and design level. The study identified that human aspects are central, i.e. cooperation and communication, and that requirements engineering practices are a critical basis for alignment. Further, the size of an organisation and its motivation for applying alignment practices, e.g. external enforcement of traceability, are variation factors that play a key role in achieving alignment. Our results provide a strategic roadmap for practitioners improvement work to address alignment challenges. Furthermore, the study provides a foundation for continued research to improve the alignment of RE with VV.


Requirements engineering Verification Validation Testing Alignment Case study 



We want to thank Börje Haugset for acting as interviewer in three of the interviews. We would also like to thank all the participating companies and anonymous interviewees for their contribution to this project. The research was funded by EASE Industrial Excellence Center for Embedded Applications Software Engineering (


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Bjarnason
    • 1
    Email author
  • Per Runeson
    • 1
  • Markus Borg
    • 1
  • Michael Unterkalmsteiner
    • 2
  • Emelie Engström
    • 1
  • Björn Regnell
    • 1
  • Giedre Sabaliauskaite
    • 5
  • Annabella Loconsole
    • 3
  • Tony Gorschek
    • 2
  • Robert Feldt
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Blekinge Institute of TechnologySchool of ComputingKarlskronaSweden
  3. 3.Malmö UniversityMalmöSweden
  4. 4.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringChalmers University of TechnologyGöteborgSweden
  5. 5.Singapore University of Technology and DesignSingaporeSingapore

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