Friday, November 11, 2016

A Walkthrough of Requirement Elicitation Techniques


The development and maintenance phases of software systems often encounter issues due to poor requirement planning, management, and execution. In this article, authors P. Sharmila and R. Umarani discuss various elicitation techniques used within the field of requirement engineering. Designing large and complex systems, requires the use of multiple phases such as, elicitation, analysis, specification, and verification. This paper places its main focus on the elicitation phase within the processes of requirement engineering. This article notes, “mistakes made in elicitation have been shown many times to be major causes of system failure or abandonment and this has a very large cost either in the complete loss or the expense of fixing mistakes.” Sharmila and Umarani state that “Elicitation is all about determining the needs of stakeholders and learning, uncovering, extracting and/or discovering needs of the users and other potential stakeholders.” Requirement elicitation techniques focus on the needs of the customers and users, so that systems are built as close to the exact specification requested. The goal of the authors in this article, was to describe requirement elicitation through the use of various techniques such as introspection, interviews, and surveys/questionnaires.


Introspection can be described as the process by which a reliance on one’s own observation, inner thoughts, and desires are emphasized. The authors criticize introspection because it mainly highlights the thoughts and imagination of the expert who is developing software instead of focusing on user needs. Combining both expert imagination and user requirements contributes to a stronger platform. While introspection alone is not a valuable technique for requirement elicitation, it becomes more attractive and desirable when coupled with other techniques.


Within interviews, elicitation acts as a key component for gaining the desired answers. Delivering the requirements of the organization in an interview and then asking the right questions, provides the employer with insight into the candidates past and their qualifications. While an individual may answer a question vaguely, it is the job of the interviewer to craft questions in a particular way in an effort to gain better knowledge of the applicant. Sharmila and Umarani specified that there are multiple objectives for an interview. Fact finding, fact verification, and fact clarification are among those listed objectives for an interview. 


Surveys and questionnaires can be seen in a positive light for the purposes of elicitation. Useful in gathering data from large groups of individuals, surveys and questionnaires can focus on a fixed set of questions. Another positive attribute to surveys and questionnaires is the fact that they are structured and offer opened ended input tailored to a specific project.


Sharmila, P., & Umarani R. (2007). A Walkthrough of Requirement Elicitation Techniques. International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications, 1, 4.


  1. Chad, this is a unique way to apply elicitation. Did the authors mention if they favored one technique over the others?

  2. Aubrey,
    In this article the authors wanted to simply outline different types of techniques. Although, when looking at the tone of the different sections, the authors spoke very highly of interviews.

    1. That makes sense to me. The face to face interaction of an interview should typically provide the interviewer with a much more robust sense of understanding of the interviewees answers. The non-verbal cues and mannerisms we all have tell in a more nuanced way how we really feel about something. Sometimes more thoroughly than words. Also the interviewer has the ability to launch follow up questions based on the interviewees answers. Something not easily foreseen in all surveys or questionnaires.

  3. Eric,
    The interview process was the one that I liked the most within this article, due to that point exactly. Having the face-to-face interaction and being able to phrase your questions around the interviewees is very important.