Use Cases: Best Practices


A whitepaper written by requirements expert Ellen Gottesdiener of EBG Consulting ( for IBM/Rational Software.

As an analyst, you have the crucial task of defining the requirements for software that is to be built or acquired. Your task is crucial for a number of reasons. If software teams fail to define excellent requirements, projects suffer from a variety of problems, including quality shortfalls, failure to meet schedules, ever-expanding user requirements, and, in the end, customer dissatisfaction. The financial costs are enormous. Depending on which study you read, typical software projects spend roughly one-third of their overall budget correcting errors that originate in requirements. Whether you are defining requirements for new software, software that will be purchased, or existing software to be enhanced or maintained, it’s easy to see why a clear understanding of requirements is one of the most important determiners of project success. Moreover, the task of defining high-quality requirements is crucial to all the project stakeholders: clients, end users, developers, testers, and managers. Years of experience in defining requirements have led to the development of a number of techniques and models to assist in the process. Among these, perhaps the most well-known model is the use case, the focus of this paper. If you have experience with use cases, you know how pivotal they are for supporting many project activities, and you may be wondering how to improve your use case modeling to save time and energy. If you are new to use cases, you want to know the bottom line best practices for getting started. This paper’s goal is to provide practical advice to both novice and experienced use case modelers.

Author: Ellen Gottesdiener

Posted in: Use Cases
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