use cases: was: Re: Business Requirements

Subject: use cases: was: Re: Business Requirements
From: "David Neeley" <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 07:27:20 -0600

From: "Pro TechWriter" <pro -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com>

"Have you thought about doing use cases (from the user perspective) as
requirements for your new application? The use cases would be the foundation
for the user guides and other documentation, and would also provide the
developers with real world information about how the user would interact
with the new system. This would not require getting "permission" either,
since you would be using them as a tool to base the user documentation on."

As with any other technique I can think of, use cases can be very
poorly done--and many engineers are told they "must" produce use cases
when they see no point, then do a fairly slapdash job of it. The
result, rather predictably, can be something that is of no earthly use
to anyone.

When I had to document a single new feature for a telecommunications
switch, I was given such useless use cases. There were six, but it
took me two days to figure out what the engineer was saying. In the
end, I reduced the six diagrams he included to one, much simpler
one--with a page and a half of description that was far more clear
than his fourteen pages of use case muddle. I remain convinced that
the use case examples made things far more confusing and complex than
it ever needed to be. Had there been another engineer involved, it
also could have led to confusion in the implementation.

For any strategy, technique, or development methodology--whatever the
tools you choose to use--it is very helpful to get a full and
(hopefully) enthusiastic buy-in on the part of everyone involved in
that process.

Otherwise, the development will be far less than optimal, to put it mildly.


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