Requirements Management in an Open Source Software Project : Empirical Case Study

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Title: Requirements Management in an Open Source Software Project : Empirical Case Study
Author: Mäkinen, Petri
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta, Tietojenkäsittelytieteen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Computer Science
Helsingfors universitet, Matematisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för datavetenskap
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Datavetenskap
Computer science
Abstract: In the past few decades there has been increasing interest towards open innovation both among academia and in businesses. Especially software intensive companies face rapid technological change, which forces them to seek new sources of innovation. Companies can do this by using various open innovation approaches where they can share their knowledge and resources or utilize the knowledge and resources of outsiders ranging from other companies to individual developers. Open source software (OSS) is a blooming open innovation strategy used by a growing number of companies. OSS communities can have a large number of members, making the requirements management process challenging. This thesis aims to build an understanding of the requirements management process in a company that is leading an actively developed open source project. The studied OSS community doesn’t only have individual developers, but many companies participate in it as well. The thesis explores first open innovation, open source software development, and requirements engineering with means of a literature review. The goal of the literature review is to investigate open innovation and requirements management in OSS context. The literature review also provides a theoretical background for studying the open innovation and the requirements management process in the case company called Qt Company. The Qt Company leads an OSS project, which is the subject of this study. The project’s requirements management process was studied with the help of several information sources. These included interviews of Qt’s employees. The interviews were conducted in a research project called OpenReq. Additional information was gathered from the company’s websites and the project’s requirements management system. To verify the results, we first studied a few issues from the requirements management system to see whether they followed our conceptual model built based on the interviews, and illustrated as a swimlane diagram. Finally, we had a follow up interview with an employee from Qt Company (Qt’s community manager) to verify the results, and to correct any inaccuracies or misunderstandings. We found Qt Company using both inbound and outbound open innovation approaches in the studied OSS project. The project, and the community around it has many similarities to the OSS community descriptions found in the literature. For example, as often in OSS, the requirements in the studied project are unstructured. The requirements management process in the studied OSS project was found to include 12 different stakeholders. Also a diagram summarizing the whole requirements management process is constructed based on the interviews and presented at the results section of the thesis.

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