Template Use Cases

Here is my remembering the future entry.

The set of Template Use Cases for Insurance was the best thing I ever found for my job. For this new insurance project, all I had to do was copy all of the Microsoft Word documents into a new directory, remove the use cases I didn’t need, add a few new ones for some special things we do, then edit everything to add the specifics for my company. The interview questions for stakeholders were just what I needed to get the information to refine the use cases.

My boss is really happy too because my use cases are so much better than they used to be, and completed faster as well. The templates also came with template use case diagrams, activity diagrams, and class diagrams in XML format so I could import them into the UML tool we are using here. Then I could just edit them to match the changes I made to the use cases. Not only is the project going really well for me, my relationship with my boss and the project team is better, and I am getting a company “Best Idea of the Quarter” award, with a nice bonus for Christmas.

Cool! Make it so Number One!


The Game: Holistic View

As I look back to the struggles I was having up to October, it’s amazing to me to think of the difficulties we were having with capturing a holistic view of the project space. We had our goals and objectives in our Vision document, our business requirements in the form of use cases, business rules and supplemental specs, our user interaction design in the form of wire frames, and process flows for those parts of the solution that involve process redesign, data dictionaries, a glossary and tons of other miscellaneous artifacts here and there. It was a mess and so difficult to get a good view of the whole picture, let alone be able to take different views of the same information.

But since we were able to use Holistic View, we’ve been able to enter all of these various forms of information, tie them together to take a whole view of the problem, the requirements and the whole solution: process as well as technology. We’re finally at the point where we can demonstrate to stakeholders, business owners as well as technology, just what it is that we’re trying to solve, what we need to solve it, and how we’re going to break that solution into its technology, process and organizational change elements. We’re able to have much better conversations with all the parties, to quickly move one element of an event flow from process change to technology, get an estimate from technology and make a better decision on cost versus benefit. It’s amazing to see the dynamics change in a meeting when we’re able to model a process and visualize which parts are manual, which parts are automated, and flip these with a mere drag and drop.

One of my favorite features is the ability to turn the system from black box for conversations with business stakeholders, to white box for technical design discussions. As you move from black to gray to white, it mirrors perfectly the different levels of discussion as we move from requirements to design to implementation. And that final, white-box view helps us automate outputs to update our application and business architectures.

We’re no longer having three discussions at once while all thinking that we’re talking about the same thing. We can visualize as well as create text documents. We can have more productive discussions of the boundaries of technology versus process, and, in the end, make better decisions. We’re going to have much better projects from now on.

The Game is Afoot

Hi Everyone –

Want to play a game with me?

My friend Luke Hohmann wrote a book called Innovation Games. These are games he plays with his customers to develop products and ideas for products.

I think it can work with a online community, but he is not so sure.

So to prove him wrong, I have started an online Innovation Game. And everyone who plays gets a special bonus described at the end of this message.

The Game

There are two different ways to play the game, because people like to work differently. One way to play is for people who like to work with their hands, the other is for people who like mind games. You may create an entry for either or both.

If you are a physical person and like to do things with your hands, try this version of the game.

The product box: Think of the ideal product that would help you most in your job as a Business Analyst. Take a plain white box up to 12 inch x 5 inch x 13 inch in size and create the packaging for your ideal product. Use some colored markers, crayons, pencils, stencils, stickers, colored paper, glue, pictures from magazines, or whatever you like to decorate the box showing the name of the manufacturer, product name, and main features. Include colorful characters or symbols to appeal to a professional market, target slogans, coupons or points to encourage repeat purchases, offers of free stuff, or ideas for other products the person can buy.

Look at a cereal box or other product packaging for ideas.

Photograph your box.

Write a post to the blog with your name and some text “selling” the rest of us on your product. What are the benefits of your product? Why would someone else want your product. Upload your pictures in that post. (Note you have to be registered on the blog and signed in to be able to write a post. The register button is on the right of this page, near the bottom of the sidebar.) Pictures should be 200 x 300 pixels or smaller. Make sure that the details of your product box can be seen in the pictures.

If you are having trouble writing the text, have someone interview you about your product while you record the conversation. You can write the text based on what you have in the recording.

If you are a mental person and like to work with your mind, try this version of the game.

Remembering the Future: Imagine that today is November 21, 2007. (Here in the United States, this is the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, a 4 day holiday that we spend with family and friends.)

You are sitting at your desk about to leave for home for the 4 day holiday. You lift your arms to stretch your tired back muscles, then pick up your cup to drink the last of your cappucino (or hot chocolate if you prefer). The weather has been cool, so the hot drink tastes very good. You are feeling very satisfied because your current project is going very well. You think back three weeks ago to October 31, 2007 when you were working really hard to write the requirements for this project. You think about what this new product has done that made your job so much easier.

Now write a description. What is this product that you like so much? What has it done to make your job easier? Draw pictures to go along with your text if that helps you to describe the product and what it has done for you.

Write a post to the blog with your name and product description, and upload any pictures in that post. (Note you have to be registered on the blog and signed in to be able to write a post. The register button is on the right of this page, near the bottom of the sidebar.) Pictures should be 200 x 300 pixels or smaller.

If you are having trouble writing the description, ask a friend to role play this scenario with you, and record the conversation. Then you can write the description from your recording.

Keep Playing

Once you have posted something, be sure to post comments on other people’s entries – what you like about them, or questions you have about a product. Keep the comments positive.

The game will continue until March 31, 2007 at midnight US Eastern time. I will lock the blog after that time, and no more entries will be accepted.


  • Each person who plays the game, by posting a sensible entry of a Product Box or Remembering the Future, gets a one hour one-on-one telephone (or Skype) consultation with Geri Schneider Winters, on a Business Analysis topic of your choosing. Note, I get to decide if something is nonsense. (If you make a serious effort to post something, then I am sure it will be fine.)

Have Fun!

  • Be creative, futuristic, visionary.
  • Or be practical, grounded, down-to-earth.
  • Describe a product that suits your style, something you personally would really like.
  • Above all, have fun with it!

Some of you may guess there is more to this game than meets the eye. After the game, I will post more information on some hidden aspects to the game. Until then, just enjoy participating in this on-line game.

Let the game begin!



  • Note there are spam filters on this blog and all entries are moderated. All entries with profanities or “adult” pictures will be deleted and will not be considered for the game. All nonsense entries will be deleted and will not be considered for the game.
  • Wyyzzk, Inc. is not responsible for any system, computer, network, blog, etc. problems that might prevent you from posting an entry. We suggest you post your entry well before the deadline to avoid problems. If you do not see your entry within 24 hours of posting it, please contact us: information @ wyyzzk . com
  • Your entry must be your own work.
  • You may not submit an entry that is an existing product.
  • You may submit multiple entries, but one person gets one hour of consultation, no matter how many entries he or she makes.
  • If a group of people want to make one entry together, then the group of people get a one hour consultation as a group.
  • Entries remain the property of Wyyzzk, Inc.
  • Bonuses will be distributed after April 1, 2007.


A new year, and new resolutions. Do yours include getting professional certification this year?

Professional certification can be good in some situations:

Intermediate level people can benefit by showing employers they have attained a certain knowledge level. Also, preparing for the certification test helps a person determine areas where they are weak in knowledge, thus giving them the opportunity to improve in that area.

Some companies require certification for the job. In this case, an employer may pay for any needed training and the cost of acquiring certification. You may find you have to acquire certification before applying for a particular job.

Certification is an indication that you are serious about your profession. You have experience and training. You have also committed to a standard of professional ethics and continuing education.

Keep in mind that if you do get professional certification, it is not forever. Many certifications are good for 3 years. To keep your certification, you have to continue to work in that subject area, and you will have continuing education requirements. These typically include things such as taking classes, teaching classes, attending conferences, and writing papers.

Here are some certifications I know of that may be of interest to you:

Business Analyst

Certified Software Engineering Professional

Unified Modeling Language

Rational Certified Professional a variety of subjects and tools, such as Object Oriented Analysis and Design or Requirements Management

Software Architect

Project Manager

Most certifications are designed for specialists. If you are a generalist, you may find it difficult to impossible to get some certifications. In that case, you will be looking more at certifications such as IEEE Certified Software Engineering Professional, which covers a broad range of topics.

I hope your new year is off to a great start. I’m taking care of a bunch of little things here at the beginning of the year – finishing up a bunch of small tasks that really needed to get done. The rest of the month is plenty busy with 2 contracts and a seminar between now and the end of the month!

Drop me a note or comment on a post to let me know what things I can help you with this year. What kinds of tools or information do you need to be more successful in your job?