RESG Event: Large Scale Requirements Analysis, 3 November 2000, UMIST 
Author Message
 RESG Event: Large Scale Requirements Analysis, 3 November 2000, UMIST

The Requirements Engineering Specialist Group (RESG)
of the British Computer Society (BCS)


"Large Scale Requirements Analysis as Heterogeneous Engineering"

Professor Kalle Lyytinen, Department of Computer Science and
Information Systems, University of Jyv?skyl?

RESG Event

11:00am, 3rd November 2000
Room F10, Dept of Computation
MSS Building, UMIST, Sackville Street, Manchester M60 1QD


Large information system development initiatives continue to fail at an
alarming rate. This paper examine how to improve our understanding in
stating and managing successfully requirements for such systems. We
argue that the current concept of a system requirement is ill suited to
develop true requirements for large systems. The received concept
follows a technical rationality, which regards requirements as goals to
be discovered and solutions as separate technical elements. In
consequence, current Requirements Engineering (RE) theory separates
these issues and reduces RE to an activity where a technical solution
is documented for a given set of goals. In contrast, we advocate a view
where a requirement specifies a set of mappings between problem and
solution spaces, which both are socially constructed and negotiated.
Requirements, by nature are, emergent and need to be discovered through
a complicated and contracted process, which likens a garbage-can
decision-making process. Large scale system requirements thereby
embrace an emergent functional ecology of requirements. In addition, we
see all requirements specifications to be inherently political due to
the need to establish stable networks involving both social and
technical elements through successful engineering (if the network is
not stable the system fails!). This leads to equate large scale
requirements engineering with heterogeneous engineering, which has been
studied in the history of technology in relations to large evolutionary
technical systems. The admitted heterogeneity of technological activity
avoids a commitment to social (or technological) reductionism inherent
in the RE theory. Consequently requirements engineers need to be seen
as heterogeneous engineers who must associate successfully entities
that range from people, through skills, to artifacts and natural
phenomena. This is successful only, if the consequent socio-technical
networks are able to maintain stability in the face of the attempts of
other entities to dissociate them. Keywords: system requirements,
functional requirements, system failures, heterogeneous engineering,
politics of system development.

Kalle Lyytinen is a professor Case Western Reserve University in
Information Systems (as of 1.1.2001) and a professor at the University
of Jyv?skyl?, Finland. He has served on the editorial boards of several
leading IS journals including MISQ, EJIS, JSIS, Information Systems
Research, Accounting Management and Information Technologies,
Requirements Engineering Journal, and Information Systems Journal. He
is also the past Senior Editor of MISQ. He has published over 70
articles and edited or written six books. His research interests
include information system theories, system design and requirements
capture, system failures and risk assessment, computer supported
cooperative work, and diffusion of complex technologies.

Cost for registration (all prices inclusive of

[  ] RESG Members    free

[  ] Others          5

(proof of identity required with

This meeting is organised by the BCS
Requirements Engineering Specialist
Group (RESG). For more information about the
group and its activities
(including membership), please visit

Alternatively, please contact Laurence Brooks, University of York

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Sun, 20 Apr 2003 21:30:17 GMT  
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