Decision Theoretic Requirements Prioritization: A Two-Step Approach for Sliding towards Value Realization

Nupul Kukreja

University of Southern California, USA

Track: ACM Student Research Competition

Budget and schedule constraints limit the number of requirements that can be worked on for a software system and is thus necessary to select the most valuable requirements for implementation. However, selecting from a large number of requirements is a decision problem that requires negotiating with multiple stakeholders and satisficing their value propositions. In this paper I present a two-step value-based requirements prioritization approach based on TOPSIS, a decision analysis framework that tightly integrates decision theory with the process of requirements prioritization. In this two-step approach the software system is initially decomposed into high-level Minimal Marketable Features (MMFs) which the business stakeholders prioritize against business goals. Each individual MMF is further decomposed into low-level requirements/features that are primarily prioritized by the technical stakeholders. The priorities of the low-level requirements are influenced by the MMFs they belong to. This approach has been integrated into Winbook, a social-networking influenced collaborative requirements management framework and deployed for use by 10 real-client project teams for the Software Engineering project course at the University of Southern California in Fall 2012. This model allowed the clients and project teams to effectively gauge the importance of each MMF and low-level requirement and perform various sensitivity analyses and take value-informed decisions when selecting requirements for implementation.