Affiliated Organization

Helsinki School of Economics, Finland


This study presents a new method to effectively determine requirements for information systems involving widely dispersed end users, such as customers, suppliers, business partners, and other end-users outside the organization, and demonstrates the efficacy of the method in a case study. Recently more IS have been targeted towards users outside the organization, making effective requirements engineering (RE) difficult. Outside users may have little relationship with the firm, are more costly to reach, may have different world views, and may not be available for iterative RE efforts. We identified seven problems associated with RE for wide audience end users and seven associated desirable characteristics for RE method that would address them. We reviewed IS, RE, and manufacturing literature to identify methods that addressed these characteristics and found three methods that supported four to five of the desired characteristics. We developed a method, wide audience requirements engineering (WARE), intended to support all seven characteristics. Major WARE features include a flexible, structured interviewing process (laddering), cognitive modeling (CSC), interpretive analysis, and a presentation tool that allows managers to view the requirements at several levels of aggregation by “drilling down” all the way to the original interviews. We used WARE to develop the requirements for a major information system, directed at outside users, at Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper. The demonstration showed that WARE was effective for its intended purpose. The requirements developed using WARE became the basis for a three year development roadmap for the system. The use of WARE helped managers and developers understand user preferences, reasoning, and priorities.