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An Empirical Study of the Effect of Integrating Visualization Tools Within Requirements Engineering Open Access

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The requirement engineering phase is widely considered an essential part of the system engineering process. As system complexity increases, system engineers will require tools dealing with the challenges complexity introduces. The ability to recognize, capture, and analyze these system inter-dependencies during the requirements phase may be a key contributor to identifying potential issues early in the development process or during system redevelopment, providing managers with the opportunity to influence change, while having the least impact to cost and schedule. This study provides an empirical evaluation of the potential impact that implementing requirements visualization tools can have on projects by comparing participants' ability to recognize relationships when a traditional requirements format is used versus integrating a visualization format. In this experimental study, 145 subjects were asked to answer questions from a randomly assigned ‘control’ or ‘treatment’ questionnaire. The control questionnaire consisted of requirements written in the standard (or traditional) text format, while the treatment group had the same requirements expressed in a graphical format. The results of the study indicated an overall improvement of 29.7% in the treatment group’s responses. The outcome of this study indicates visual representation of requirements shows potential improvement to identification and anticipation of risks, thereby allowing organizations to apply solutions early, thus benefiting organizations by lowering cost and minimizing schedule impact. “The potential advantage to employing this approach is that it is potentially easier to anticipate failures related to the requirements generation and tracing via a graphical view. This graphical perspective is easier to disseminate, evaluate, analyze, and forecast potential issues to individuals with an extremely wide requirement experience skill-set. The intention of employing this technique is to allow for earlier identification of issues relating to cost, schedule, and quality based on misaligned requirements” [Logan et al.2014].

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