Computing and Information Systems - Theses

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    Exploring social aspects of requirements engineering: an ethnographic study of Thai systems analysts
    Thanasankit, Theerasak ( 1999)
    Requirements engineering has been considered as an important phase for information systemsdevelopment. There has been much evidence, which shows how the lack of understanding ofusers' requirements has led to information systems failure and rejection by clients.Requirements engineering emerged from software engineering focusing on elicitingrequirements and finalising requirements specification for systems analysts to design systems. There has been a focus in requirements engineering research on the technical area. This study focuses on the social dimensions of requirements engineering, which has been poorly understood due to a lack of research in this area. The social dimensions of requirements engineering are broad and cover many areas of social activities. This study focuses on the influences of culture and values on requirements engineering processes and on the tools/techniques employed by systems analysts for requirements engineering. The data collected was from intensive interviews with eight Thai systems analysts. These interviews were transcribed and analysed using the accepted practices of hermeneutics. Culture is learned by members in a society. They learn how to behave to their parents, relatives, peers, and their superiors throughout their development from home, school, and workplace. Thai culture is high in power distance, group focus, emotion and relationship focus, and is characterised by a dislike of uncertain situations. These unique characteristics in Thai culture influence the requirements engineering processes and the use of tools/techniques for requirements engineering. Three important issues emerged from the study. They are a continual evolving of requirements, long decision-making processes, and misconceptions about requirements and of the problem domain. These three issues are shown to be influenced by the process of requirements engineering as practiced by the participant systems analysts. Thai culture and values construct the learning process in Thai society and form the emotional and relationship structures in Thailand. These two unique issues are shown to influence the use of tools/techniques for requirements engineering by the participant systems analysts. This study shows that local culture and values have influenced requirements engineering processes. Therefore, systems analysts need to take social factors into consideration for the best selection and adaptation of existing requirements engineering processes to suit their client's culture, values, and work practices. This study's findings are crucial for multinational information systems consulting organizations, operating in Thailand, to gain a better understanding of Thai culture and its impact on the use of requirements engineering methodologies. The study also assists consulting organisations to better manage requirements engineering processes and understanding implicit factors that create problems during requirements engineering and throughout the information systems development processes.