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Integrating Collaborative Requirements Negotiation and Prioritization Processes: A Match Made in Heaven. Nupul Kukreja Annual Research Review 14 th March 2013. Outline. Motivation. Not enough time and money to implement all requirements

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Integrating Collaborative Requirements Negotiation and Prioritization Processes: A Match Made in Heaven

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Integrating Collaborative Requirements Negotiation and Prioritization Processes: A Match Made in Heaven

Nupul Kukreja

Annual Research Review

14th March 2013



  • Not enough time and money to implementall requirements

    • Need to prioritize requirements w.r.t. budget and schedule constraints

  • High coordination and transaction costs to ascertain requirement priorities or reprioritizing new/changed requirements

  • Too many ties using MoSCoW or 1-10 scoring

    • Assumes stakeholders can correctly score requirements as per intrinsic value

    • Difficult to ascertain value of new/changed requirements in relation to others


Value-Based Requirements Prioritization (VBRP)!

  • Stakeholders select the most valuable requirements for implementation

    • “Value lies in the eyes of the beholder” – but can be captured with some effort

  • Decision theory folks working on this for a long time

    • Some models (e.g. AHP) have been used for requirements prioritization with varying degrees of success

  • Propose a ‘lightweight’ two-step approach based on TOPSIS (Technique of Ordered Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution)

Two-step Approach – Overview

Decompose System into MMFs

Decompose MMFs into low level requirements

Prioritize w.r.t. business value, relative penalty & ease of realization(TOPSIS)

Prioritize w.r.t. business goals(TOPSIS)

TOPSIS (What?)

Alternative 1

Ideal Alternative (S’)

Criterion 1


Alternative (S*)

Alternative 2

Criterion 2

Aim: Rank order alternatives by their ‘closeness to ideal’ and ‘distance from non-ideal’

Criterion: Has ‘direction of preference’ i.e. more/less of the criterion is preferred

Ideal: Best score for each criterion Non-ideal: Worst score for each criterion



  • A collaborative, social networking based tool for requirements brainstorming similar to facebook…

  • …with requirements organization using color-coded labels similar to Gmail…

  • …to collaboratively converge on software system requirements reaching win-win equilibrium (based on Theory-W)…

  • …by keeping it short and simple like XP’s user stories!

TOPSIS integrated with Winbook in v2.0

Two-Step Prioritization

0.Goals Articulation & Prioritization

  • WinWin methodology assumes project goals are captured and prioritized before commencing “WinWin Negotiations”

  • Added a “precursor” step for capturing and prioritizing goals prior to initiating negotiations

  • Goals captured in Winbook and prioritized using success sliders

MMF Decomposition

  • Top-down decomposition of system into Minimum Marketable Features (MMF)

    • Units of software value creation

    • Components of intrinsic marketable value

  • Prioritize MMFs against project goals:

    • MMFs scored against each goal on a 1-9 scale

      (1 = MMF has little to no contribution in realizing the goal; 9 = MMF wholly contributes towards realizing the goal. Absolute scale okay too)

    • MMF priorities ascertained by underlying TOPSIS algorithm

MMFs are ‘leaves’ of tree


Win Condition Capture & Prioritization

  • Win Conditions (WCs): Stakeholders’ desired objectives stated in an easy to understand manner and formalized where necessary (“functional” WCs captured in ‘user-story’ format)

  • MMFs decomposed into constituent WCs

  • Win conditions prioritized against:

    • Business Value (1: low; 9: high)

    • Relative Penalty (1: low; 9: high)

    • Ease of Realization (Story-points/Fibonacci scale)

  • WCs priorities also computed by TOPSIS and scaled by MMF they belong to

    (Similar GUI as previous slide)

Two-Step Prioritization

  • MMFs influenced by business goals

  • Win condition scores influenced by MMFs they belong to

  • Change in goal weights  change in requirement priorities

  • Dynamically (re)prioritizable product backlog

  • Developers can ‘pull’ most valuable requirements from (up-to-date prioritized) backlog

: Influences Priority Score

Evaluation & Results

  • Two-step approach deployed in software engineering project course (CS577) @ USC since Fall 2011

  • Empowered teams to perform sensitivity analyses:

    • Varying goal weights and gauging impact on MMFs/WCs

    • Varying criteria weights to ascertain high-value, high-risk or complex WCs for prototyping

  • New requirements/changes comparable with existing ones to ascertain optimum scope leading to channelized negotiation sessions

Evaluation & Results (Cont’d)

  • Ability to have requirements backlog with accompanying rationale for each requirement

  • TOPSIS-Winbook approach provided significant improvements in organizing, updating and accessing captured rationale over previous versions of the WinWin negotiation systems

  • Live traceability from goals to win conditions (and vice versa) vs. static traceability matrix

    • Makes explicit contribution of MMFs to goals (and consequently WCs to goals)


  • TOPSIS rank reversals – inclusion of spurious alternatives can change prioritization order of requirements

    • Not a major concern for cooperative teams (not intent on gaming the system)

    • Cause of concern for negotiation among competitors

  • Hierarchical prioritization may not agree with intuition/gut-feel

    • Teams manually account for discrepancies

  • Prerequisites/dependencies not handled in current version of Winbook


  • Two-step prioritization decouples business (goals/MMF) prioritization from individual requirements

  • Ability to quickly gauge impact of changing business goal priorities on individual requirements

  • Provides dynamic reprioritizable product backlog for use in lean/agile/kanban projects

Integrating a decision theory based prioritization framework with a collaborative requirements negotiation and management tool thus provides a rationale-backed prioritization of requirements allowing the stakeholders to channelize their negotiation and development efforts around the most valuable requirements.

A match truly made in heaven…

Thank you!


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