Ravencloud Announced

Congratulations to Ravenflow on the release of the new version of their product RavenCloud!

This is a very exciting new product that lets you automatically create activity diagrams from your use cases, find and correct errors in the flow, and export your diagrams to a document – all offered over the net from anywhere you are in the world.

I participated in the beta this year, and was really impressed by how easy it is to log into a website, enter my use cases, and automatically generate activity diagrams and find errors in the flow.

RavenCloud is being offered by subscription, so you don’t have any software to install and you can access it from anywhere on the web.

You can even try before you buy :-) You can get a free account that lets you enter your use cases, create activity diagrams, and save them. You can copy and paste the activity diagrams into your documents with a watermark.

Paid accounts give you more options for exporting your work, and remove the watermark from the diagrams.

You can find RavenCloud here: http://www.ravencloud.com/

I’m not an affiliate, just a happy user and long time associate of the company.

Go get your free account and start using RavenCloud for yourself!


New Articles at Resources for Business Analysts Site

We are up to 290 members now at www.ResourcesForBusinessAnalysts.com– very soon we’ll be over 300!

I posted some articles on the site today that were in my email list or somewhere on the blog or somewhere on my hard drive 😉

These are on the Use Case page and Determine Requirements page. I also added new sections to the BA Skill Matrix for SDLC and Tools. So go explore and see what is new!



Tips for Business Analysts: Requirements in Complex Systems

Author: Geri Schneider Winters

Some of you may be working on systems with many complex relationships between the parts. These complex systems may be described as a system of systems, or may be described as a product line, or perhaps both at once.

In these cases, you will often find that the requirements of a large, overall system are shared among a number of related projects, each of which implements some well-defined part of the overall system.

In this environment, it is really good to have a team of Business Analysts who work collaboratively on all the requirements of all the projects. Another approach is to have one or more Business Analysts work on the shared requirements, then have Analysts on each project work on the detailed requirements for that project.

If you do not have that kind of relationship between Business Analysts in your company, it is good for everyone to work informally with the Analysts on the other projects to share work as much as possible. This will lead to greater consistency and will avoid wasted effort in developing the same requirements multiple times.

You can use tools such as DOORS or Rational Requisite Pro to show the relationships between the requirements in different projects. For example, you might define a ReqPro project for a set of common requirements that all the projects share, then put a folder in that ReqPro project to store the requirements of one software project. That way, all of the related projects can see what is common and what is specific to a particular project. By reviewing the requirements of other related projects, a project team may find some similarities they can take advantage of.

If you have to keep one version of a set of requirements for one set of projects, and develop a new version of those requirements for another set of projects, then you would likely want to copy the first set of requirements, for example into a new ReqPro project, then edit the requirements in the new project. You can set up a trace relationship between the relationships in the two ReqPro projects.

I do not know DOORS, but assume you can set up similar structures in that tool.

A good book for project teams involved with complex projects is “Designing Software Product Lines with UML”, by Hassan Gomaa.

I have also written a paper with an example of a system of systems/product line approach to requirements. It is called “Requirements Structure in a System of Systems / Product Line Architecture. You can find it at:



Now it is your turn.

Are you working on a set of complex, inter-related projects? Are some of the techniques suggested here or in the paper useful to you?


You are invited to re-publish articles from this blog, in your publication or website, as long as the article is intact and you include the following Byline paragraph (with live links) after each article you use…


* Article used with permission from Wyyzzk, Inc.’s Resources for Business Analysts site at http://www.writingusecases.com This website of reports and tips contains information to help you succeed as a Business Analyst in IT.


Tools for Business Analysts

In response to a recent BA Tip on tools for the job, Jason Greenley sent me some information about tools he likes to use to support writing requirements, UML diagrams, requirements management, and version control:

I have used a product called IBM Workbench V4.2.4 that does 3 out of the 4. You can produce process flow using the graphical Activity Decision Flow. Once an activity is added you can then specify the cycle time, role repsonsible for the activity (and the associated resource cost be it salary / hr, week, year), the associated technology tools used at that activity (Applications) and their costs per use as well as the data flow and fields between activities. Then when you have an activity defined you can write the human procedural steps of that activity to be used later in requirements communication and training. In addition, once all this data is available Workbench 4.2.4 will simulate the flow based on scenarios that define input rate and volume to include variable receipt rates (4/minute between 10 and 11am and 25/minute between 12 and 1pm) that outputs cost, cycletime, and resource utilization data- ALL BEFORE ANY CODE IS WRITTEN. If the design does not meet ROI expectations you can tweak (optimize the process design to achieve greater return / Decrease Cycle time / Increase Quality etc… The you give the design to IT for Coding…

Then you would ask “what about a User Interface for the task?”. Thats when you pull out the xform designer which allows you to create a mockup of the user interface and then associate it with the activity.

IBM Workbench 4.2.4 also allows for the export of the data fields and process flow to be exported to IBM Rational XDE as Class diagrams, UML Sequence, State, Activity, and Use Case Diagrams.

I only tell you about Workbench 4.2.4 because I have not had an opportunity to use its most recent invcarnation IBM Websphere Business Modeler 6. Here’s a link to pique your interest


Any of the 12 or so market leaders in the BPM (BUsiness Process Management) space offer BPM Suites that are designed to bridge the gap between Business and IT.They all attempt to combine the 4 features you mention.

Thanks Jason! I always like to hear about new tools in the marketplace. IBM announced end-of-life for Rose XDE this past June, but I believe they have added UML modeling to the Websphere tools. I don’t use Websphere myself, so I’m just repeating what I’ve seen on the IBM site. There are many changes going on in the Rational products. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the new Rational Suite version 7 (released Nov. 2006) and see what has changed. IBM is really enthusiastic about the Eclipse platform, so that has changed a few things.

Anyone else like to comment? What tools do you like to use in your role of Business Analyst?