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Quality Requirements on a Shoestring

April 2015 Presentation
Thijmen de Gooijer (ABB Corporate Research)

This talk presents an extension of the Mini-Quality Attribute Workshop (mini-QAW) format that can be used as a tool for smaller, low-risk, or iterative projects.


Software Engineering Institute




Traditional Quality Attribute Workshops (QAWs) are costly and cumbersome to organize for large and/or geographically dispersed organizations. Yet good quality requirements are key to making the right architectural decisions in the design process. At SATURN 2014, Chaparro and Keeling presented the mini-QAW, proposing a way to pare down the QAW activities and do part of the work offline. We extend their format with a stakeholder empathy exercise to fill in for absent stakeholders. During the exercise, participants brainstorm to create a list of stakeholders for the system. Each participant chooses a stakeholder from the list to empathize with and create scenarios for, before listing his or her own concerns. In addition, we propose the use of UI mockups as a method to support quality attribute scenario generation. The method is an alternative to quality attribute taxonomies or unstructured brainstorming. Finally, we report how we used the Microsoft Lync online meeting tool to include remote stakeholders via its annotation feature. With our changes, we successfully ran two QAWs of 2 and 3.5 hours at ABB. We can now rely on a smaller set of stakeholders and do not need all stakeholders to travel to the same location. This contributes to a lower time investment for the QAW and reduced travel cost for participants. A workshop according to the mini-QAW format will not give results of the same depth and breadth as a traditional QAW but should be used as a tool for smaller, low-risk, or iterative projects.