Work Product (Artifact): Business Use Case Model
The Business Use Case Model is a model of the business goals and intended functions. It is used as an essential input to identify roles and deliverables in the organization.

The Business Use Case Model describes the direction and intent of the business. Direction is provided in the form of business goals, which are derived from business strategy, while intent is expressed as the added value and means of interaction with the stakeholders and customers of the business.

The Business Use Case Model is used by stakeholders, business-process analysts and business designers to understand and improve the way the business interacts with its environment, and by systems analysts and software architects to provide context for software development. The project manager uses the Business Use Case Model to plan the content of iterations during business modeling and track progress.

Representation Options

UML Representation: Model, stereotyped as <<business use-case model>>

The Business Use Case Model may have the following properties:

  • Introduction: A textual description that serves as a brief introduction to the model.
  • Survey Description: A textual description that contains information not reflected by the rest of the Business Use-Case Model, including typical sequences in which the business use cases are employed by users and functionality not handled by the Business Use-Case Model.
  • Business Use-Case Packages: The packages in the model, representing a hierarchy.
  • Business Goals: The business goals in the model, owned by the packages.
  • Business Use Cases: The business use cases in the model, owned by the packages.
  • Business Actors: The business actors in the model, owned by the packages.
  • Relationships: The relationships in the model, owned by the packages.
  • Diagrams: The diagrams in the model, owned by the packages.

If the purpose of the business modeling effort is to reengineer the target organization, you should consider maintaining two variants of the Business Use-Case Model: one that shows the business actors and business use cases of the current organization (sometimes called "as-is"), and one that shows the target organization with new business actors and business use cases ("to-be"). 

If you are considering a significant redesign of the way the target organization works (business reengineering), this separation is needed otherwise the redesign will be developed without knowing  what the proposed changes really are at the end, and you will not be able to estimate the effects or costs of those changes. It is like an architect who is asked to draw up plans for changing a townhouse into three flats, without having an as-is blueprint from which to work.

The cost of maintaining two Business Use-Case Models is not insignificant, and you should carefully consider how much effort you put into a current model. Typically, you would not do more than identify and briefly describe the business use cases* and business actors. You would also briefly outline the business use cases you determine are key to the effort, possibly illustrating this with a simple activity diagram. The level of detail you choose should aim at providing a shared understanding of the target organization.

You would not need this separation in the following situations:

  • there is no "new" organization (the goal is to document an existing organization)
  • there is no existing organization* (business creation)

See also Guideline: Target-Organization Assessment

*Note: when modeling an existing organization to create an as-is model, you need to do little more than create the brief descriptions of business use cases, business actors and key business events and associate these with the existing business goals because you can move more directly to capturing actual current business processes that realize these business use cases. The current business use cases serve as anchors to explain the purpose of the current business processes. When the purpose is business creation, the new business use cases are specifications for achievement of the business goals, for a business that does not yet exist. Consequently, they will need much more detail.

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