Stakeholder Identification in the Requirements Engineering Process

Topics: Stakeholder theory, Stakeholder, Project management Pages: 11 (3460 words) Published: August 23, 2009
Sharp, Finkelstein & Galal

Stakeholder Identification in the Requirements Engineering Process

Helen Sharp Centre for HCI Design, School of Informatics, City University, Northampton Square, London, EC1V 0HB, UK,

Anthony Finkelstein & Galal Galal Computer Science Department, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK (a.finkelstein, g.galal)

Adequate, timely and effective consultation of relevant stakeholders is of paramount importance in the requirements engineering process. However, the thorny issue of making sure that all relevant stakeholders are consulted has received less attention than other areas which depend on it, such as scenario-based requirements, involving users in development, negotiating between different viewpoints and so on. The literature suggests examples of stakeholders, and categories of stakeholder, but does not provide help in identifying stakeholders for a specific system. In this paper, we discuss current work in stakeholder identification, propose an approach to identifying relevant stakeholders for a specific system, and propose future directions for the work.

Information systems (IS) researchers have also taken up the idea of stakeholders: ÔWe define stakeholders as these participants together with any other individuals, groups or organisations whose actions can influence or be influenced by the development and use of the system whether directly or indirectly.Õ [22] In software engineering, stakeholders have been defined as: ÔThe people and organisations affected applicationÕ [3] by the

ÔSystem stakeholders are people or organisations who will be affected by the system and who have a direct or indirect influence on the system requirementsÕ [16] ÔStakeholders are people who have a stake or interest in the projectÕ [4]

1. What is a ÔstakeholderÕ?
There is a large body of literature in the strategic management area which discusses organisations in terms of a stakeholder model. Stakeholder analysis, it is claimed, can be used to analyse an organisationÕs performance and determine its future strategic direction. An oft-quoted definition of ÔstakeholderÕ, taken from a key reference in this literature is: ÔA stakeholder in an organisation is (by definition) any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisationÕs objectives.Õ [10] A much broader definition, which has also been attributed to Freeman, is that a stakeholder is Ôanything influencing or influenced byÕ the firm, but it has been claimed that this definition is problematic because it leads to the identification of a very broad set of stakeholders. It is important to distinguish between influencers and stakeholders because while some potential stakeholders may indeed be both stakeholders and influencers, some who have a real stake in an enterprise may have no influence, e.g. a job applicant, while some influencers may have no stake, e.g. the media [8].

A more explicit refinement of this definition is: ÔÉ anyone whose jobs will be altered, who supplies or gains information from it, or whose power or influence within the organisation will increase or decrease.Õ [7] They go on to say that ÔIt will frequently be the case that the formal ÔclientÕ who orders the system falls very low on the list of those affected. Be very wary of changes which take power, influence or control from some stakeholders without returning something tangible in its place.Õ [7] When faced with the practical problem of how to identify the set of stakeholders relevant to a specific project, these definitions are not particularly helpful. The main concern is that, although such definitions are usually accompanied by example groups of stakeholders, they are vague and may lead to consideration of inappropriate or incomplete groups of stakeholders. Categories of stakeholder include end-users, managers and others involved in the organisational processes...
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