Unified Modeling Language (UML)

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We are frequently asked about connecting and tracing software architecture elements to business processes by integrating BPMN business models and software models in UML (Unified Modeling Language)... Now we will explore how to supplement business architecture with software architecture. 

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Today’s letter is “C” – for Class Diagrams. Business Analysts use Class Diagrams to help them discover ‘structural’ business rules and to document them in a visual form that is readily understood by developers.  What is a structural rule?

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This article proposes a use case best practice technique: Always document decisions separately and explicitly in use case scenarios. This practice assists the business analyst in identifying where alternate and exception paths may be needed.This is similar to how decisions and resulting gateways are documented in Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN).

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At some stage in their working life, every business analyst will have some involvement with data modelling. They may need to model how data is (or will be) used or - if they only deal with requirements investigation - then someone else in the team will need to verify that the data to support new functions will be available.

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Use Case Points are used as an analysis phase technique for estimating software development. Assuming the Business Analyst (BA) composes system use cases for describing functional requirements, the BA can use this technique for estimating the follow-on implementation effort. This article reviews the process of estimating the follow-on development effort for use cases.

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A swimlane diagram is a type of process flow diagram (also sometimes called a cross-functional diagram) that features divisions or "lanes." Each lane is assigned an actor (which may be an individual, department, division, group, machine, entity, and so on), or even a phase or stage in a process, that is responsible for the activity or work described in the lane.

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An activity diagram is a type of flowchart that is part of the UML (Unified Modeling Language) standard. Its purpose is to enable analysts to present a concrete, easy-to-follow visual of the workflow of a business use case.

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Almost every business analyst uses diagramming software in their arsenal of analysis tools. According to BABOK 2.0, an analyst’s traditional purpose in using diagramming tools is to “support the rapid drawing and documentation of a model, typically by providing a set of templates for a particular notation which are used to develop diagrams based on it.” Diagrams not only make requirements clearer to stakeholders through modeling, they help clarify an analyst’s thinking on a project through the process of their very creation.

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While most business analyst roles don't explicitly require static modeling expertise, developing a better understanding of static modeling concepts can be a measurable forward step for business analysts seeking to develop new competencies. Such skills can be useful in many aspects of the BA work, from obtaining a better understanding of stakeholders' information needs, to documenting those needs in unambiguous ways and communicating them more effectively to the technical team.

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As part of the Unified Modeling Language, Activity diagrams are often utilized for many software projects. However, a few questions about Activity diagrams linger in the minds of many Business Analysts, such as: Who is really using them? What kind of projects are they being used on? Why are people not using them? How are people using them? Are they providing any benefit?
 

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There is much written today about separating business rules from other dimensions of automated business systems. Without proper separation, they operate in enterprises without a great deal of thought given to them. Ironically, they may be the most important dimension because they represent important business thinking behind processes, use cases, for example. This article discusses various approaches for dealing with business rules and use cases.
 

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Some people use them. Some people don't use them. Some people create them using sophisticated tools. Some use basic drawing programs. As part of the Unified Modeling Language, Use Case diagrams are often the starting point for many software projects. However, questions about Use Case diagrams still linger in the minds of many Business Analysts...

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“Where does UML fit?” is a common question among new (and not so new!) business analysts. We all know that the M stands for modelling but beyond this, perceptions start to differ. In its current form (V2.0) UML consists of 13 diagram types all of which provide a different view of a system.

In this article we’ll take a brief look at which of the 13 diagrams are of most relevance for us and how they fit together...

Author: Jan Kusiak

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Many people on our Business Analysis workshop ask why we use dataflow diagrams (DFDs). Why not Use Case…or even BPMN? After all DFDs have been around for 20 years, surely the world has moved on?

Well, has it? The primary purpose of a business analyst is to communicate – to stakeholders and to solution providers – and when it comes to communication we all know that pictures (diagrams) are much more effective and less ambiguous than words. Remember the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words". The question is – which type of diagram best suits our needs? In this article, written by IRM's Training Services Manager Jan Kusiak, we’ll look at using diagrams for stakeholder communications.

Author: Jan Kusiak

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As a software architect and developer I’ve used Enterprise Architect (EA) from Sparx Systems (www.sparxsystems.com) for a number of years. In that time I’ve spent considerable time and energy trying to get our business analysts to do the same. While I’ve had some success I must admit it’s been an uphill battle. I suspect this is partly because EA is often seen as a technical person’s tool. And that’s not altogether surprising.

  • Enterprise Architect – the name itself is completely misleading. EA is not only for people with the title ‘Enterprise Architect’. It’s for the entire project team, from BA’s to Testers and even for Clients.
  • User Interface – for developers the user interface of EA is extremely familiar and intuitive. It looks like a lot of the tools they use already. For non-technical users more familiar with tools like Microsoft Office it is somewhat more intimidating.

So, if you’re a Business Analyst looking for a tool that can help you do your job more effectively then read on.

Author: Andrew Tokeley, Development Manager, Intergen Ltd
You can read Andrew's blog at:
http://andrewtokeley.net

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