The W6H pattern

Ordering interrogative questions for effective requirements engineering: The W6H pattern

Requirements elicitation and requirements analysis are important practices of Requirements Engineering. Elicitation techniques, such as interviews and questionnaires, rely on formulating interrogative questions and asking these in a proper order to maximize the accuracy of the information being gathered. Information gathered during requirements elicitation then has to be interpreted, analyzed, and validated. Requirements analysis involves analyzing the problem and solutions spaces. In this paper, we describe a method to formulate interrogative questions for effective requirements elicitation based on the lexical and semantic principles of the English language interrogatives, and propose a pattern to organize stakeholder viewpoint concerns for better requirements analysis. This helps requirements engineer thoroughly describe problem and solutions spaces. Most of the previous requirements elicitation studies included six out of the seven English language interrogatives `what’, `where’, `when’, `who’, `why’, and `how’ (denoted by W5H) and did not propose any order in the interrogatives. We show that extending the set of six interrogatives with `which’ (denoted by W6H) improves the generation and formulation of questions for requirements elicitation and facilitates better requirements analysis via arranging stakeholder views. We discuss the interdependencies among interrogatives (for requirements engineer to consider while eliciting the requirements) and suggest an order for the set of W6H interrogatives. The proposed W6H-based reusable pattern also aids requirements engineer in organizing viewpoint concerns of stakeholders, making this pattern an effective tool for requirements analysis.

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