Seven-Layer Model of the Role of the Facilitator in Requirements Engineering
There is an increasing understanding of requirements engineering as a group activity. Those who have participated in requirements workshops and meetings will recognise that success often depends on the mediation skills of the workshop facilitator.
The role of the facilitator in requirements engineering was the subject of a lively debate at the International Conference on Requirements Engineering (ICRE’98) where a panel of professional facilitators 1 shared their experiences with participants.
The aim of this paper is to present a full discussion of the role of the facilitator in requirements engineering. The paper is important for the following reasons:
1. The role of the facilitator in the success of requirements workshops is often grossly underestimated (if a workshop was successful, the role of the facilitator is often forgotten).
2. The requirements engineering community should develop a better understanding of the role of the facilitator in addressing the twin concerns of successfully involving people in the requirements process and of producing good-quality requirements specifications within the resources available.
3. Electronic meeting systems are increasingly being used not only in face-to-face meetings but also in meetings where participants are geographically dispersed. Detailed descriptions of the role of the facilitator will provide a blueprint for developing appropriate computer support for facilitation which may well be vital to the success of distributed requirements engineering teams.
The paper discusses the importance of conflict in requirements teams and the role of the facilitator in dealing with conflict. A number of facilitated requirements methods are reviewed and a number of models of facilitation described. The paper then presents summaries of six case studies of situations where the author has acted as a professional facilitator of commercial requirements engineering teams. The lessons learned from these experiences are brought together with existing facilitation models to produce a new model. The main outcome of the research presented in this paper is a seven-layer model of the role of the facilitator.
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