NJIT Inception is not the Requirements Phase Chapter 4 Applying UML and Patterns Craig Larman.
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NJIT Inception is not the Requirements Phase Chapter 4 Applying UML and Patterns Craig Larman
Inception is NOT requirements Purpose is to decide whether to proceed with development, not to define requirements. Only key requirements are ivestigated.
A motto for requirements Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien - Voltaire (The best is the enemy of the good.) Avoid “Paralysis by Analysis” – it kills the budget without significantly benefiting the corporation. Classic Mistake: Too much time and money wasted in the “fuzzy front end.”
Questions during inception What is the vision for this project? What is the business case? Is the project feasible? Should we buy or build? Rough estimate of cost? At end of inception: Go or No Go?
Inception in one sentence Determine the product scope, vision, and business case.
Problem statement Do the stakeholders have basic agreement on the vision of the project, and is it worth investing in serious investigation?
NJIT Inception Artifacts Not all documents are needed for every project.
Vision and Business Case Describes the high level goals and constraints, the business case, and provides an executive summary. Usually has an estimate of costs (+/- 100%) and expected benefits stated in financial terms.
Use Case Model Describes the functional requirements and related non-functional requirements. Preliminary only, usually the names of most of the expected use cases and actors, but usually only about 10% of the use cases are detailed. Do not confuse a use case diagram with a use case. It is mostly text.
About use cases (1) A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I first studied Use Cases with Ivar Jacobsen. At that time I paid a lot of attention to form. Then, after talking with Craig Larman, I started to appreciate that in the early stages of software development, content overwhelms form.
About use cases (2) I look for good naming conventions, abstraction, and the avoidance of premature design or early commitment to specific technologies. For example, why specify a keyboard before you know whether voice input would be more appropriate? Search the Web for “Alistair Cockburn” for help on writing use cases.
About use cases (3) I have criticized a login use case because a login is a procedure, not a complete user process. While the student argued that Larman encourages creating a separate use case for activities that are shared by many activities, I am still going to insist that early in the process, you must think like an end user, not as a developer.
About use cases (4) While you are working on ESSENTIAL use cases, leave out technical implications and describe only COMPLETE user processes. Later, when you get to the design phase, and you are working or REAL use cases, you can start to think in technical language.
About use cases (4) I have also criticized using the word manage in a Use Case. Larman, on page 67, recommends precisely that term for CRUD use cases. CRUD is usually design, not specification, but I still don't like Larman's suggestion. I strongly prefer Noun Verb phrase names that give clear descriptions of what is happening to ones that use generic terms like information, data, manage, group, etc. Manage would also be more appropriate for activities done by manager than by others, so it is even more ambiguous.
About use cases (5) Naming is one of the most critical activities in the early stages of software development. Names that are chosen tend to determine design more powerfully than almost any other feature. Larman considers assigning responsibilities to objects the most critical activity in object oriented development. That is why patterns were developed. But naming largely determines what objects are created so that activities can be assigned to them.
About use cases (6) An activity I stress more than naming is deferring decisions. I want you to define the problem fully before you start to define a solution. Any work that you do on the problem domain tends to increase the range of possible solutions, while work in the solution domain limits your choices. You want to be certain that the problem domain is large enough to hold some good solutions and hopefully an ideal solution before you start to narrow your choices.
About use cases (7) Premature design is a primary cause of mediocre solutions that may work, but do not give a competitive advantage.
Supplementary Specification Describes non-functional requirements that do not appear elsewhere. Functional requirements describe the functionality of the product. All other requirements that must be met are considered non-functional requirements.
Glossary Describes the key terms in the business domain.
Risk Plan Contains a list of known and expected risks. Includes business, technical, resource, and schedule risks identified by probability and severity. All significant risks should have a response or mitigation plan.
Prototypes / Proof of concepts These may be developed to clarify the vision, or to validate technical ideas. Inception phase prototypes are throw away prototypes, not evolutionary prototype that may be evolved into a product. They are often done with a prototyping tool.
Iteration Plan Describes what to do in the first iteration of the product. Usually implements the core functionality of the product. Eliminate biggest risk first. The worst risk is usually that the final product will not meet the most important requirement.
Phase / Software Development Plan A low precision guess for the duration and effort of the elaboration. Includes tools, people, training and other resources required. May also be called a Resource Plan.
Development Case A description of the Unified Process steps and artifacts for the project. Note that the UP is always customized for each project.
NJIT You know you don’t understand Inception when… (signs of trouble)
Schedule Inception should last a few weeks at most.
Requirements defined Only key requirements should be described during inception. Save the rest for later phases and later iterations.
Accuracy of estimates There is a funnel of cost estimates. The earlier the estimate, the less accurate it is. Inception, Analysis, Design, Construction, next phase, etc… +/- 100% +/-50% +/- 25%+/-10% Some inception estimates are +400/-75%
Do not design architecture Architecture should be done iteratively during elaboration. Defer decisions as late as possible. The more you know, the less chance that you will make a bad decision.
Path to disaster The Waterfall method is too risky: Define the requirements Design the architecture Implement the product Use iterations instead.
Always needed The most essential inception document is the Business Case or Vision artifact. The main purpose is to decide whether or not to proceed with the project. Note that there are usually further Quality Gates that also must revisit the Go/No Go decision. (Just because you wasted $1 million is no reason to waste $10 million.)
Use Cases and Actors You should have identified most of the use cases and actors during inception. Do not detail all of the use cases. Only document the most important ones. About 10 or 20% of the use cases should be detailed enough to estimate the scope of the total project.