A study of the impact of requirements volatility on software project performance

Author(s): Zowghi, D., and N. Nurmuliani
Venue: Software Engineering Conference Ninth Asia-Pacific
Date: 2002

Sample Size: 430
Class/Experience Level: Professional


The paper discusses about the findings of a survey based empirical study of requirement volatility (RV) and the impact on software project performance. The paper examined factors that contribute to RV such as frequent communication between users and developers and the usage of a definable methodology in requirements analysis and modeling with the stability of requirements. The paper concludes that requirement volatility has significant impact on schedule overrun and cost overrun in software projects. Some other results are discovered and discussed under the "Results" section.

What type is the study? Survey based empirical study

Process Outline

  1. Survey instrument was designed, pre-tested and sent to the companies' senior IS executives
  2. First question was whether or not their company are involved with software development
  3. If affirmative, they were asked questions in respect to a software project they have been involved with in the last two years


  • A total of 92 responses (21%) with 40 of them not developing software in-house
  • No significant difference was found in firm size between respondents and non-respondents
  • No significant difference was found between late and early respondents
  • Negative relationship between requirements volatility and software project performance, measured by project completing on time and on budget
  • Regression analysis for the impact of factors such as organization size and project size were not significant
  • Using definable methodology for requirements analysis and modeling has negative impact on RV
  • Performing requirements inspection reduces the extent of RV
  • The more user representatives involved in the development team, the more volatile the requirements were