Towards Intelligent Requirements

Towards Intelligent Requirements

Robert B.K. Brown (University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia), Angela M.E. Piper (School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia) and Ian C. Piper (School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/ijiit.2015010101
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Abstract

IT Projects remain challenging to design and build despite improvements and efficiencies in the detailed-design and construction phases. Extended effort in early requirements gathering and analysis phases are unpopular at present, though poor requirements still impacts on IT project success. Intelligent tools may enhance these early phases but abstraction of the qualitative and wicked nature of Information Systems design problems (difficult enough for inexperienced humans) resists automation. An approach that moves from the concrete ‘known' towards the abstract unknown in a prescriptive manner may be of use. This paper presents and offers the ATSA:OO methodology as a candidate for consideration as such an approach.
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Activity Theoretic Systems Architecture (Atsa)

The Activity Theoretic Systems Architecture methodology (Brown, 2010) employs Activity Theory (AT) (Vygotsky, 1978) throughout, which has gained wide currency as an analytical tool, especially in Scandinavia. Bødker (1989) and Nardi (1996) drew first attention to AT’s potential in the human computer interaction domain and Kaptelinin’s (1999) elicitation ‘checklist’ technique its practical application. The checklist technique remained in circulation (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006) more recently evolving into a guided interview process (Duignan et al., 2006). Vrazalic (2004) combined AT with notions of distributed usability in creating her usability evaluation method (DUEM) which is employed after design.

Community notions were added to AT in 1987, after which AT found itself deployed in the collaborative work and collaborative learning fields. Fjuk, Nurminen and Smørdal (1997), Kuutti and Molin-Juustila (1998), Gifford and Enyedy (1999) and Jonassen and Rohrer-Murphy (1999) produced various elicitation question based concepts and approaches, some capable of informing initial systems design.

In the more technical domains of system design and software engineering, AT has its greatest currency in the early phases such as elicitation and preliminary requirements analysis. Korpela et al. (2000) suggested AT had general applicability in systems design but offered no codified methodology. Mwanza’s (2002) eight step activity oriented design method (AODM) can identify crucial areas for analysis but doesn’t offer a designer any further guidance. Fuentes et al. (2004) were able to express AT concepts in terms of unified modeling language (UML) constructs. They explored its community concepts with regard to multi-agent systems. Martins (2007) made the case that activity-related requirements should be both elicitable and confirmable with AT but offered no prescriptive method for doing so. Uden et al. (2008) specifically deployed the historical aspects of AT in exploring how requirements change in the web design. They deployed UML activity diagrams with an AT flavour in a well-conceived but as yet incomplete way, based largely on the finer grained (decomposed) layers of the AT concept (as explored below).

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