Some Use Case Tips

I’ve been running through an on site use case class as we start to formally role out our Agile (Scrum based) methodology. The formalness of the rollout I find a bit over done, but buy-in is important. And generally management finds if easier to buy in if a consultant presents these ideas. Anyway despite having done a lot of use cases for requirements gathering in the past six years or so there’s always new techniques or tips to pick up. Some I got from the class today were:

  • Use Simple Use Case Templates – I learned this the hard way after putting together elaborate Word templates in the past complete with nicely formatted tables and nested numbered lists. After many hours in Word cleaning up formatting I finally stopped using tables and simplified my numbering system as much as possible.
  • Combining Alternative Paths and Error Paths – Apparently the instructor and I had learned the same lesson that it is really hard sometimes to define whether something is an Error Path versus just an alternative Path. Since the point is just to describe all the paths who cares if it’s an error path or an alternative path, just make everything an alternative path.
  • Big Sketch Pads versus Projectors – My past experience has been using a projector with the use cases and going through each step with everyone in the room looking on. The instructor mentioned that she preferred to use a lot of sketchpads so more people could interact. She felt you got more of a visual sense of accomplishment and more of the important thoughts and details could be captured because everything doesn’t have to be funneled through the person at the one keyboard. I’ll have to try this out the next time I get a chance to do some use cases.