What you ask is what you get: Understanding architecturally significant functional requirements

Preethu Rose Anish, Maia Daneva, Jane Cleland-Huang, Roelf J. Wieringa, Smita Ghaisas

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
    584 Downloads (Pure)


    Software architects are responsible for designing an architectural solution that satisfies the functional and non-functional requirements of the system to the fullest extent possi-ble. However, the details they need to make informed architec-tural decisions are often missing from the requirements specifica-tion. An earlier study we conducted indicated that architects in-tuitively recognize architecturally significant requirements in a project, and often seek out relevant stakeholders in order to ask Probing Questions (PQs) that help them acquire the information they need. This paper presents results from a qualitative inter-view study aimed at identifying architecturally significant func-tional requirements’ categories from various business domains, exploring relevant PQs for each category, and then grouping PQs by type. Using interview data from 14 software architects in three countries, we identified 15 categories of architecturally signifi-cant functional requirements and 6 types of PQs. We found that the domain knowledge of the architect and her experience influ-ence the choice of PQs significantly. A preliminary quantitative evaluation of the results against real-life software requirements specification documents indicated that software specifications in our sample largely do not contain the crucial architectural differ-entiators that may impact architectural choices and that PQs are a necessary mechanism to unearth them. Further, our findings provide the initial list of PQs which could be used to prompt business analysts to elicit architecturally significant functional requirements that the architects need.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication23rd IEEE Internatioanl Conference on Requirements Engineering (RE)
    EditorsDidar Zowghi, Vincenzo Gervasi, Daniel Amyot
    PublisherIEEE Computer Society
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)978-1-4673-6905-3
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2015
    Event23rd IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2015 - Ottawa, Canada
    Duration: 24 Aug 201528 Aug 2015
    Conference number: 23

    Publication series

    PublisherIEEE Computer Society


    Conference23rd IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2015
    Abbreviated titleRE
    Internet address


    • EWI-26939
    • Qualitative interviews
    • Quantitative study
    • Large-scale project delivery
    • METIS-316890
    • Architecturally significant requirements
    • Empirical Research Method
    • IR-100186
    • Exploratory case study


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