Packaged Software Implementation Requirements Engineering by Small Software Enterprises

Issam Jebreen, Robert Wellington, Stephen G. MacDonell

Small to medium sized business enterprises (SMEs) generally thrive because they have successfully done something unique within a niche market. For this reason, SMEs may seek to protect their competitive advantage by avoiding any standardization encouraged by the use of packaged software (PS). Packaged software implementation at SMEs therefore presents challenges relating to how best to respond to misfits between the functionality offered by the packaged software and each SME's business needs. An important question relates to which processes small software enterprises - or Small to Medium-Sized Software Development Companies (SMSSDCs) - apply in order to identify and then deal with these misfits. To explore the processes of packaged software (PS) implementation, an ethnographic study was conducted to gain in-depth insights into the roles played by analysts in two SMSSDCs. The purpose of the study was to understand PS implementation in terms of requirements engineering (or 'PSIRE'). Data collected during the ethnographic study were analyzed using an inductive approach. Based on our analysis of the cases we constructed a theoretical model explaining the requirements engineering process for PS implementation, and named it the PSIRE Parallel Star Model. The Parallel Star Model shows that during PSIRE, more than one RE process can be carried out at the same time. The Parallel Star Model has few constraints, because not only can processes be carried out in parallel, but they do not always have to be followed in a particular order. This paper therefore offers a novel investigation and explanation of RE practices for packaged software implementation, approaching the phenomenon from the viewpoint of the analysts, and offers the first extensive study of packaged software implementation RE (PSIRE) in SMSSDCs.

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