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New Post 10/7/2009 6:26 PM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: Do use cases really help?Craih 

Craig Brown wrote:  "For a community of analystical people I wonder why nobody is seeking evidence that use cases (to pick just one example) are a better requirements modeling tool than other things."

Tony Markos responds:   Now thats a thought!! 

 
New Post 10/8/2009 12:05 PM
User is offline Adrian M.
762 posts
3rd Level Poster




Re: Do use cases really help? 

Hi Craig, Guy, Tony, & other readers,

First of all, I want to echo Guy's sentiment: Do hammers really help?  Yes!

Hammers are useful if they are used for the right purpose: hammering nails. 

Are there cases when hammers work for other purposes and situations?  Yes again - but only if you do so when it makes sense...

Personally, I used a hammer many times and "knew" it would work.  Why? Because my grand daddy used one, my father used one, and I used one and it worked.  Do I need a "proof" that it works - probably not.

Same goes with Use Cases...

Do use cases really help?  Yes - but only if you use them in the right context and for the right purpose.  This applies to any tool, technique, or method.

Yes - there is lots of bias out there both for and against use cases:

  • So many books on uses so they must work,
  • It's an OMG standard so it must be good,
  • I saw a project using use cases and the project failed,
  • I bought a $5.99 use case template and it was really bad,
  • etc.

Personally - I've successfully used use cases and they worked very well.  Do I employ use cases on every project?  No - I don't!

Having said that, it would be nice to have a study on the effectiveness of various tools/techniques to find out what works in what context.  Unfortunatelly, it's probably not something easy to setup since there are so many variables which contribute to the success of a project.

I once worked with a high-level executive who, when told that we would utilize use cases, he said: "@%#k use cases'.  We said OK, and the next day we changed every reference of "use cases" with "functional description" while leaving everything else the same: diagrams, naratives, alternate flows, etc.  All the project stakeholders, including our high-level executive, loved how the project team used the "new" technique of "functional descriptions".  The project went on to be a great success.

- Adrian

 


Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
 
New Post 10/8/2009 12:29 PM
User is offline Adrian M.
762 posts
3rd Level Poster




Re: Do use cases really help? 

Tony,

Is this the article you were looking for: What's Wrong With Use Cases?

This is a great article.  It basically says the same thing that I previously mentioned: use case only work if used for the correct purpose in the right context (project type, organization, project phase, etc.).

- Adrian


Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
 
New Post 10/8/2009 5:17 PM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: Do use cases really help? 

Adrian:

The author for the article that you  link to  is correct, and it may be the article I previously read.  However, I could have sworn that the article I read was alot longer - like about 12 pages.  Maybe this is a condensed version of it?  The author brings up important  points, such as:

*  Use cases are unsystematic (including lacking any lithmus test of completedness).

*  Use cases are a to-be modeling tool - not a problem definition (i.e., as-is modeling) technique.  (And acutally, often the major part of the to-be comes from the as-is as the as-is is a highly negotitated document.)

In my mind, just the above points reduce use cases to a supplemental diagram.  And the author brings up other limitations of use cases, including, in a round-about-way, the biggest fault of use cases: they employ brute-force partitioninig.

Adrian, positioning use cases as a tool that can help in the correct situation is alot different than what I typically hear and read: that is that use cases are "the industry standard" in functional modeling.   While I can agree with the former, I disagree with the latter.

Tony

 

 
New Post 10/9/2009 6:57 AM
User is offline David Wright
141 posts
www.iag.biz
7th Level Poster




Re: Do use cases really help? 

Tony, I wonder if you ever feel like a lonely voice in the wilderness...


I agree that a Use Case Diagram does not help discover the use cases needed for the scope of analysis, it just shows the ones you have found by other means and how they relate to the actors and other use cases. There are other techniques you can use to define all the use cases in scope without missing any, and without arbitrary partitioning.

 

Then you can detail each use case, which is essentially the one or more paths that can be followed to accomplish the use case goal: one most frequent path, less frequent variations, plus those that do not accomplish the goal (errors, exceptions). If you detail each path, you can then generate your Functional Requirements, always what I am trying to accomplish.

 

So used in the proper context, use cases (or business activities or function descriptions or any other name) work for me. They may not work for others. So, you can't say either that they always work, or that they always fail. It's how you use them that makes the difference.


David Wright
 
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