Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Object Technology

This chapter is from the book

Use Case Migration Problems

I have worked with large groups of traditional software developers to introduce them to the use case technique for documenting system requirements. I have encountered some very strong and unexpected resistance to the use case approach from these developers as represented by the following comments:

  1. Our users don't know what they want, so our users cannot develop use cases. Unfortunately, many experienced developers have encountered potential information system users who do not seem to know what they want from an information system. These traditional developers still believe that it is their job to try to understand the users' business and then to write the use cases for the users.

    I believe what is really happening here is that the traditional developers and their clients don't really understand a user-centered approach to documentation. The use case is the externally visible behaviors (e.g., screens and reports) of the interactions the user can have with a system. If the users truly have no concept of what they want out of a system, it is unlikely that the successful implementation of any system is possible, regardless of what techniques or technology are used.

    I have found it effective to introduce the use case technique to the users by showing them generic use cases for common business processes, by showing them use cases from similar systems or even from competitor's systems, by starting the use case development process by mocking up screens and reports before trying to develop the use cases, and by using existing training manuals to create use cases of the users' existing systems. If, after exhausting all of these approaches to introduce the users to the use case technique, the users still say that they don't know what they want from their new systems, I recommend that the project be cancelled.

  2. We need more details. Traditional developers become distressed when they read user-centered documentation. They see only externally visible behavior. While they can create the "look and feel" of the reports and screens that contain the inputs and outputs of the series of user stimuli and system responses described in a use case, they are upset that they do not have any information on the processes and algorithms necessary to code the system. This is another common misunderstanding about the use case technique. Use cases will never be sufficient documentation from which to begin coding. After the use cases are written, there has to be the collection of the nonfunctional requirements of the system. These nonfunctional requirements include features like response time, availability, transaction volumes, integration with legacy systems, security, and persistence strategies. The nonfunctional requirements are the basis for establishing the system's architecture. After the architecture has been established, the process of identifying and designing the components of the system begins. The components of the system will contain the processes and algorithms necessary to provide the functional and nonfunctional requirements of the system. The analysis and design of these components is done using a systems development methodology. The use case approach is not a complete development methodology; it is just a technique to document the externally visible behavior of the system. The use case tells what the users want from the new system, it does not tell how to design or construct the new system.

  3. We want to be end-to-end developers, not specialists. Many traditional developers expect that they will be fully involved in all phases of a new system development. They will gather the requirements, plan the architecture, design the new system, do the coding, conduct the testing, train the users, and write the documentation. The full benefits of the use case technique, however, come from the specialization of duties. One team of expert user interface designers will be working with the users to develop the look and feel of the system's screens and reports. Another team of business systems analysts will be working with the users to develop the sequences of behavior of the new system. The third team, consisting of systems development specialists, will be involved in the design and implementation of the components necessary to provide the functional and nonfunctional requirements of the system. It is only this third team that may be involved in the writing of any code. Hopefully, however, this third team will be using CASE tools to generate the code, reusing existing code and design patterns, or even using software component factories to implement the required system.

    The expectation of end-to-end development may be leading to the developers' rush to details. The sooner they collect the algorithms, the sooner they can start to code. In the three-team approach there is no inappropriate rush to code. The specification of algorithms is deliberately postponed until after the user interfaces have been designed and approved, after the use cases have been written and accepted, and after the system architecture has been created. The business systems analysts team is done with its part of the project when it has assisted the users with the development of the use cases. The user interface team is done with the project when it has assisted the users in the development of the look and feel of the screens and reports. The implementation team that will actually develop, generate, or assemble and reuse the components of the system only becomes involved with the project after the architecture has been established.

  4. Iterative development will result in the project's scope and budget going out of control. Traditional developers become upset that the interactive specification of requirements by the users will result in the uncontrolled increase scope of the system. The use cases are revisited at least four times over the course of the systems development life cycle. For example, the Rational Unified Process specifies that during the inception phase, use cases are employed to set the scope of the project and to assist in the development of the business reasons for the development of the new system. During the elaboration phase, more detailed use cases are created to help with the setting of the system architecture and to help develop the plans for constructing the system. During the construction phase, use cases become the starting point for design and for the development of testing plans. Finally, during the transition phase, use cases are used as the basis for the development of user manuals and user training. One of the most difficult lessons for traditional developers to learn is that the iterative process often actually decreases the number of components in the system. More use cases do not mean more code. Common behaviors may be abstracted from multiple components and refactored into just a single component. Additional use cases may be just new sequences of services from the existing components.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020