Reducing the risk of requirements volatility: Findings from an empirical survey

Susan Ferreira, James Collofello, Gerald MacKulak, Amylou Dueck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Requirements volatility is a common development project risk that can have severe impacts. An empirical survey of over 300 software project managers and other software development personnel was performed to examine effects of various software development factors on requirements volatility. This paper reports the survey data results showing relationships between a number of software development process factors and requirements volatility. Key software project factors studied for their relationship with requirements volatility include process maturity level and various process techniques used for requirements engineering activities, such as requirements elicitation, prototyping, analysis and modeling, specification, and reviews. Significant correlations between the process factors and requirements volatility resulted from the analysis of some of the factors. The use of particular requirements engineering process techniques showed correlations with lower levels of requirements volatility. Other findings indicated that projects which used some types of prototypes to elicit requirements had higher levels of requirements volatility in later phases of the development cycle than lower levels, as one might expect. The presented results can be used by software development managers to proactively address and possibly mitigate the risk of requirements volatility, and to understand the potential for increased requirements volatility when certain methods are utilized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-393
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Software Maintenance and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • requirements engineering
  • requirements process
  • requirements risk
  • requirements volatility
  • software risk mitigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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