Jasper Berends
Thesis Jasper Berend
A research to further analyze the Example Mapping and Feature Mapping techniques
Shared understanding between stakeholders in a project is essential to develop good software. When agile methodologies are used, such as Scrum, informal and frequent communication is crucial to determine good requirements. Requirements Engineering is an integral part of software development: when properly applied, it ensures efficient software development, but poor requirements are disadvantageous for a software project and entail higher costs.

Software requirements can be determined during a refinement session. Oftentimes software is split in smaller pieces called user stories. Three Amigo sessions can be used to refine user stories. During a Three Amigo refinement session, team members of different principles are present. To keep the session efficient, only one person from each principle is present. For example, there is one analyst present with business knowledge, one software developer and one software tester. The purpose of this session is to create a shared understanding around the functionality of the software and to prepare a good description of its requirements. The requirements are drawn up in the form of examples that illustrate how the software should function, written in a way that is clear for everyone.

Agile software environments often change in context and the way they work. Thus, new techniques are frequently implemented. Example Mapping and Feature Mapping are two techniques that can be used to organize Three Amigo sessions. The risk is, however, with these type of new techniques, that they are never validated on how well they perform. These techniques are ‘pushed’ to teams by the industry. This can result in a technique being pushed in a context where it isn’t suitable at all and can cost a lot of time and money.
That is why Jasper Berends has conducted research on behalf of Info Support. The purpose of the research is to further analyze the Example Mapping and Feature Mapping techniques. Jasper Berends is a graduate of the master study Business Informatics at the University of Utrecht. He also conducted thorough research into the concepts of shared understanding.

Preliminary results

To measure the performance of the techniques, an experiment was conducted with students and case studies are done with development teams. The research showed that Example Mapping performs well in the context of the different studies. The technique provided clear requirements of user stories and a high shared understanding between team members. The fact that somebody from each principle is present makes the meeting effective and efficient.
An important aspect of what the research shows, is the learning effect from the techniques: it takes several of sessions before the members completely master the technique.
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