University of Oulu

Behutiye W., Karhapää P., Costal D., Oivo M., Franch X. (2017) Non-functional Requirements Documentation in Agile Software Development: Challenges and Solution Proposal. In: Felderer M., Méndez Fernández D., Turhan B., Kalinowski M., Sarro F., Winkler D. (eds) Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. PROFES 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10611. Springer, Cham

Non-functional requirements documentation in agile software development : challenges and solution proposal

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Author: Behutiye, Woubshet1; Behutiye, Woubshet1; Costal, Dolors2;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Pentti Kaiteran Katu 1, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Campus Nord, Jordi Girona, 1-3, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-06-05


Non-functional requirements (NFRs) are determinant for the success of software projects. However, they are characterized as hard to define, and in agile software development (ASD), are often given less priority and usually not documented. In this paper, we present the findings of the documentation practices and challenges of NFRs in companies utilizing ASD and propose guidelines for enhancing NFRs documentation in ASD. We interviewed practitioners from four companies and identified that epics, features, user stories, acceptance criteria, Definition of Done (DoD), product and sprint backlogs are used for documenting NFRs. Wikis, word documents, mockups and spreadsheets are also used for documenting NFRs. In smaller companies, NFRs are communicated through white board and flip chart discussions and developers’ tacit knowledge is prioritized over documentation. However, loss of traceability of NFRs, the difficulty in comprehending NFRs by new developers joining the team and limitations of documentation practices for NFRs are challenges in ASD. In this regard, we propose guidelines for documenting NFRs in ASD. The proposed guidelines consider the diversity of the NFRs to document and suggest different representation artefacts depending on the NFRs scope and level of detail. The representation artefacts suggested are among those currently used in ASD in order not to introduce new specific ones that might hamper actual adoption by practitioners.

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Series: Lecture notes in computer science
ISSN: 0302-9743
ISSN-E: 1611-3349
ISSN-L: 0302-9743
ISBN: 978-3-319-69926-4
ISBN Print: 978-3-319-69925-7
Pages: 515 - 522
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-69926-4_41
Host publication: Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. PROFES 2017
Host publication editor: Felderer, Michael
Méndez Fernández, Daniel
Turhan, Burak
Kalinowski, Marcos
Sarro, Federica
Winkler, Dietmar
Conference: International Conference on Product-Focused Software Process Improvement
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work is a result of the Q-Rapids project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement N° 732253.
EU Grant Number: (732253) Q-RAPIDS - Quality-Aware Rapid Software Development
Copyright information: © Springer International Publishing AG 2017. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in PROFES 2017: Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. The final authenticated version is available online at: