A multi-case study of agile requirements engineering and the use of test cases as requirements

Elizabeth Bjarnason, Michael Unterkalmsteiner, Markus Borg, Emelie Engström
2016 Information and Software Technology  
Context] It is an enigma that agile projects can succeed "without requirements" when weak requirements engineering is a known cause for project failures. While agile development projects often manage well without extensive requirements test cases are commonly viewed as requirements and detailed requirements are documented as test cases. [Objective] We have investigated this agile practice of using test cases as requirements to understand how test cases can support the main requirements
more » ... s, and how this practice varies. [Method] We performed an iterative case study at three companies and collected data through 14 interviews and 2 focus groups. [Results] The use of test cases as requirements poses both benefits and challenges when eliciting, validating, verifying, and managing requirements, and when used as a documented agreement. We have identified five variants of the test-cases-as-requirements practice, namely de facto, behaviour-driven, story-test driven, stand-alone strict and stand-alone manual for which the application of the practice varies concerning the time frame of requirements documentation, the requirements format, the extent to which the test cases are a machine executable specification and the use of tools which provide specific support for the practice of using test cases as requirements. [Conclusions] The findings provide empirical insight into how agile development projects manage and communicate requirements. The identified variants of the practice of using test cases as requirements can be used to perform in-depth investigations into agile requirements engineering. Practitioners can use the provided recommendations as a guide in designing and improving their agile requirements practices based on project characteristics such as number of stakeholders and rate of change.
doi:10.1016/j.infsof.2016.03.008 fatcat:rhp5t5cfgnegte5ik4avs7qmlm