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On the Requirements Engineer Role

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Requirements Engineering (RE) is a critical area in software development, as figuring out what to develop and include in a product is a cornerstone activity which all others depend upon. Countless studies of unsuccessful development projects report that lack in RE is often a core-contributing failure factor.13 Central in RE is the role that coordinates all its related activities, usually named requirements engineer. Still, empirical evidence on the way companies implement this role is scarce. In this article, we present the results of an interview-based descriptive study involving 24 IT professionals from 12 companies. As a main outcome, we can affirm that all companies assign IT professionals to the requirements engineer role in their projects, but in many different ways, which might impact efficiency of the function. Furthermore, we uncover that requirements engineers often perform other tasks ranging from project's go vs. no-go decisions to test suite design in addition to handling requirements. Last, the study highlights their need to communicate with many other roles inside the company, from domain experts to system architects.

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According to the International Requirements Engineering Board (IREB), a requirements engineer is "a person who—in collaboration with stakeholders—elicits, documents, validates, and manages requirements."3 There are several synonyms in place, most of them using the term "analyst," like "requirements analyst," "business analyst," "system analyst," or even simply "analyst."16


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