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42 Agile Use Cases

Monday, 27 October – 13:30-17:00 Afternoon

Alistair Cockburn, Humans and Technology, alistair.cockburn@acm.org

Some people consider use cases and agile development to be contradictory concepts, writing use cases as mere replacements for whatever requirements documents they were writing on their all-requirements-first, document-centric projects. Alistair Cockburn, one of the few people expert in both use cases and agile development, will review how to work with use cases on those other projects, where you choose to spend less time on documentation, do it later, need to save money, or plan on changing your mind along the way.

Part of the secret is in writing less, more clearly. The tutorial will include tips for structuring use cases to take less time to write, becoming both shorter and clearer, siphoning less time from project progress, and communicating crucial information more quickly. Part of the secret lies in knowing what parts to omit and when to omit them. The tutorial will include tips for shortcutting both the process and the use case structure for those projects that choose those tradeoffs. Not much can be said about tools, but what is known about setting up tools for agile use cases will be addressed. Along the way, the tutorial will review the fundamentals of both use cases and agile development, addressing particularly the basic structure and common misconceptions surrounding each. The presenter will allocate time within the session to answer arbitrary questions that the curious attendee might bring along.

Attendee background

This tutorial is intended for people who are curious about agile development, or those familiar with agile development and skeptical about adopting use cases.

Prerequisites: Some previous exposure to use cases is required. No special knowledge of agile development is needed.


Lecture and discussion


Dr. Cockburn is a highly-regarded instructor and is known as one of the premier experts on use cases as well as one of the authors of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. His book "Writing Effective Use Cases" set the standard in the area. That and his "Agile Software Development" both received the Jolt Productivity book awards in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Dr. Cockburn has taught use case writing since 1994, and has also acted as consultant on project management, object-oriented design, and methodology to the Central Bank of Norway, the IBM Consulting Group, and the First Rand Bank of South Africa. Materials that support his workshops can be found at http://Alistair.Cockburn.us.