An Experience of Principled Negotiation in Requirements Engineering

NegoAn Experience of Principled Negotiation in Requirements

David W. Bustard
School of Computing and Information Engineering, University of Ulster
Coleraine, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland


When considering ways of improving requirements engineering, or indeed any aspect of
software development, it is often possible to build on relevant experience in other disciplines.
In particular, in relation to the human side of reaching agreement on requirements,
Principled Negotiation seems to offer a good framework for the process involved. This paper
summarises the main concepts of Principled Negotiation and reports on an experience of its
use over several years in helping Environmental Health Departments in Northern Ireland
introduce IT systems. The relationship between Principled Negotiation and Soft Systems
Methodology, a general problem solving strategy built on systems thinking concepts, is also
considered briefly.


In the preface to his classic text on the management of software development, Brooks (1975)
starts with the statement that “In many ways, managing a computer programming project is
like managing any other undertaking—in more ways than most programmers believe. But in
many other ways it is different— in more ways than most professional managers expect.” This
reminds developers that software can largely be treated like any other artefact, building on
similar development approaches. It also recognises, however, that software has some special
characteristics that need particular attention during construction.

An Experience of Principled Negotiation in Requirements Engineering

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