Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts


Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.

Business Analyst Interview Questions


Recent Interview Questions | Search | Subscribe (RSS)

What is the difference between a use case alternative flow and an exception flow?
Question: What is the difference between a use case alternative flow and an exception flow?

Statistics:Article Rating (30847 Views) (2 Additional Answers/Comments)
Posted by: vineetbanwet
Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Use Cases, Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA)


Answer:
 

A use case specification describes the functionality of a system in terms of a sequence of user-system interactions.  The main flow of events describes a single path through the system.  It represents the most common way that the use case plays out successfully and contains the most popular sequence of user-system interactions.  Other scenarios or paths through the system are described in alternative flows and exception flows.  So what is the difference?

First, it’s worth saying that there are a number of opinions in this area since the Unified Modeling Language has no standard for Use Case Specifications.  Some authors mention only alternative flows and use them for both optional flows and error flows.  However, of those authors that do differentiate between alternative flows and exception flows some agreement in definition has emerged. 

An alternate flow describes a scenario other than the basic flow that results in a user completing his or her goal.  It is often considered to be an optional flow and implies that the user has chosen to take an alternative path through the system.  An exception flow is an unintended path through the system usually as a result of missing information or system availability problems.  Exception flows represent an undesirable path to the user.  However, even though the exception flow has occurred the system  will ideally react in a way that recovers the flow and provide some useful information to the user.

The primary benefit of differentiating between alternative flows and exception flows is the focus that exception flows bring to error conditions.  By capturing all of the ways that the system can fail or produce an error, the business analyst can be sure to create a design which mitigates the impact of the error.

 

Additional Answers/Comments
By ndaza @ Sunday, March 08, 2009 2:13 PM
I agree with the distinction drawn in this article. By definition "alternative" means just another way. As Business Analysts, we need to remember to keep the language simple and understandable for consumers of our documentation. Using the "alternative flow" section of our use case narratives to describe error flows or exceptions or paths that do not arrive at the same Post Conditions as our normal course (happy path) is confusing for everyone. Business Analysts need to adhere to the KISS principle.

By baldrick @ Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:04 PM
Pretty much agreed. RUP appears to be unclear on this point .. instead it talks about extending and included use cases.

To be clear, I define an alternate path as described above that always returns to the expected postcondition (or goal) of the use case.

Exception path does not return the the basic flow, but instead ends the use case at an unexpected, or exception postcondition of the use case.

It is easy to clarify the difference if modeling with activity diagrams.

Les.

Only registered users may post comments.

Do you twitter?: If you want short updates on what's going on in the BA world and at ModernAnalyst.com, simply follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ModernAnalyst



Select ModernAnalyst Content

Register | Login

Featured Digital Library Resources 

Copyright 2006-2014 by Modern Analyst Media LLC