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RESG/BCS Nottingham & Derby – Joint Requirements Engineering Event – Review
Tom James

Back in May, the Nottingham and Derby Branch of the BCS invited Alistair Mavin as the guest speaker at their regular monthly branch meeting. The presentation was a huge success and attracted a significant amount of interest for future requirements engineering focussed talks. Sparked by the strong appetite from the Nottingham and Derby members for more events, Alistair and Tom James, Nottingham and Derby Branch Chairman, set to work to organise the first requirements engineering event.

Having issued a survey to all branch members as well RESG members, it was evident that strong interest existed across a vast range of requirements engineering topics as well as delivery styles.

After much planning, The Easy Approach to Requirements Syntax (EARS) was agreed as being the topic that would be covered at the first event and would be delivered as a presentation. EARS is the requirements framework that has been adopted by Rolls Royce and was conceived and developed by Alistair.

The response to the event was exceptional. In excess of 35 people turned out to Novotel East Midlands, with one attendee flying 284 miles from Glasgow, prepared to be enlightened as to the great benefits that anyone passionate about crafting high quality can gain with EARS.

The room was buzzing throughout the talk with Alistair keeping the room alive with an invigorating practical insight into the structure of the EARS notation, even successfully fending off the odd heckle from a jesting member of the audience!

The room was captivated throughout which was evident from the questions that were asked in-flight as Alistair was speaking. Peoples’ questions were targeted at helping them to adapt the aviation based examples which Alistair used to demonstrate the EARS concepts, to identify where EARS would fit into their own work. Often, the answer was not completely clear cut, which resulted in some healthy discussion amongst the audience as to how EARS could be applied to certain requirements based problems. It was uplifting from the discussion to see that people were passionate about taking the pertinent points away to make a positive difference to improving the quality of their own requirements.

The evening ended with a complimentary bar which was hosted by the Nottingham and Derby Branch of the BCS. It was great to see so many retire to the comfort of the hotel lounge to continue the lively discussion. Members networked with fellow IT professionals, sharing experiences and exchanging contact details.

A follow up survey was issued to all attendees of the event which pictured the evening as a resounding success with 100% indicating that their expectations of the event had either been met or exceeded. One participant commented “Wasn’t sure what to expect but presentation was excellent.”

Members were also unanimous in their interest for a future requirements engineering based event, indicating what can only be described as a triumphant first joint event between RESG and BCS Nottingham and Derby. Plans are already in motion for the next event, with more details to be announced.

Tom James

Alistair Mavin’s papers about EARS are available in Open Access from here.

Systems and Conflicts
Fernando Muradas (Brazilian Navy / Oxford University)

Figure 1 – Classification of Group tasks (McGrath, 1983)

There is a consensus that around 70% of all problems related to system development are consequences of inadequate requirements elicitation. Thus, an improvement on requirements elicitation is mandatory to any software development process improvement initiative.

When we observe the requirements area in a detailed manner, it is possible to notice that it depends directly on group activities such as requirements elicitation and validation, as there are many people from the client and development organisations involved. Any group task relies on several factors. Among these factors there are: interpersonal relationships, intergroup relationships, social and psychological factors, relationships between the group and the tasks to be performed, and finally the group and tasks’ relationships with the environment.

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RE: An Alternative Perspective on Microfinance
Camilo Fitzgerald, August 2012

Community Based Saving Bank in Cambodia

Recently I had a chat with the CEO of a microfinance institute in Nicaragua. We exchanged thoughts on the problems faced in microfinance and the types of solutions that requirements engineering can provide. I was very happy when the conversation culminated in a job offer in a research position for when I finish my doctoral thesis, which I gladly accepted. So, what exactly can RE do for microfinance?

Microfinance is a movement aimed at providing financial services to those in developing countries who would not otherwise receive them. Management of loans and other financial services has a cost that remains constant regardless of the amount of money involved. There is therefore little incentive for commercial banks to provide these services to poorer sections of society where it becomes difficult to break even. The microfinance movement aims to set up self- sufficient financial service providers that enable small businesses to manage their risk in developing countries – thereby stimulating economic growth.

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