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Oxford England

  • The End of the Road
    These photos are separated from my Travels album because Oxford is something of a second home. I still manage to visit it several times a year. So the pathway between Manotick and Oxford is well trodden and I can likely do it with my eyes closed - and probably have on more than one occasion.

Royal Roads University

  • Hatley Castle
    This series of photographs was taken over the last few years. I have stayed at the campus of Royal Roads on several occasions and I have been repeatedly impressed by the grounds. They are in many ways a little-known treasure.

Travels

  • Kafka Statue
    Here is a selection of pictures I have taken during my travels over the last few years. I am very obviously an amateur photographer and it is not uncommon for me to forget my camera altogether when packing. What the pictures do not convey is the fact that in these travels I have met, and gotten to know, a great many interesting people.

Manotick Ontario

  • Springtime in Manotick
    Manotick Ontario Canada is the part of Ottawa that I call home. Much of Manotick stands on an island in the Rideau River. Interestingly, the Rideau Canal, which runs through and around the river, was recently designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. So this means that the view from my backyard is in some way on a similar par with the Egyptian Pyramids - although the thought strikes me as ridiculous.
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« An Unlikely Leadership Framework | Main | Object Process Methodology »

February 24, 2008

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Yanic Inghelbrecht

Hi Joe,

Interesting. So the project consisted of a team of people new to the method, the supporting tool and UML, assisted by specialized consultants.

I can understand that most of the UML is alien to stakeholders, but then again, UML was never meant to be a customer facing notation.

Two questions spring to mind :
- how were functional requirements captured and communicated with the stakeholders?
- how confident are you about the expertise of the 'specialized experts'?

From what I read above, it seems more of a problem with the chosen method than the notation.

Best regards,
Yanic

Joe Gollner

Thanks for your note Yanic.

In line with the direction in which your questions are headed, this particular project was challenged in many ways. Most importantly it was embarking on an undertaking of what we might call "multi-dimensional complexity". In other words, they were asking for trouble from the beginning.

What was interesting was that the team assembled, in terms of external experts, was pretty good, in my estimation. As I noted in my post, several of the team's efforts to bridge the communication chasm were in fact well-done.

One of the reasons I became involved in the project (under protest I might add) was the need to find a way to "re-express" the requirements in a way that the business stakeholders could work with. This leveraged many of the efforts that had been undertaken in the project including the past preparation of "process workflow diagrams" (using more traditional flow chart symbols). What we were doing as the project lumbered along was building "supplements" to the Use Cases with these helping to paint a more integrated picture. I actually think we would have eventually resolved the communication challenges had not the "clock run out" as it often does on large projects.

My role in the project, which covered about a year and a half (and on an a somewhat occasional basis) was to review all aspects of the project from a colder, more objective perspective. There were other issues but the challenges around communication were the ones that stand out as the most interesting in retrospect.

As you highlight, and as my closing thoughts touch upon, UML is not really intended for this "engagement" role so much of my argument in fact is less of a criticism of UML as it is a case for a more sound approach to addressing this all-important requirement. This sound approach would, ideally, provide both the needed accessibility, if I can call it that, and formality, so that the business requirements that are established are genuinely useful in the detailed analysis and design activities that must follow.

I believe I have found, after much searching, a good candidate toolset for this, and it will be the subject of one of my next posts. I am always eager to hear about alternatives though.

Yanic

Hi Joe,

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response.

It is indeed a real challenge to find a language that is both accessible and formal (enough) at the same time.

It will have to involve stakeholder training one way or the other, which can be a hard sell depending on the audience.

One interesting initiative that I came across in that regard was a concrete syntax for OCL (object constraint language) that was business oriented.

I'm looking forward to reading about the solution you have in mind. And of course, I hope it will employ UML sequence diagrams in one form or another ;o)

Best regards,
Yanic

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