Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trying to analyze the process of some of the departments of a company

There are different departments in a company and some of them interact quite closely in order to bring the appropriate services to the clients they have.  In any case, we are trying to create a domain model.  Right now, we have a general activity diagram where we see how the different documents and processes interact and who are the ones responsible for each of the steps/activities.  There are activities that go round and round.  Back and forth, back and forth because a certain condition has to be satisfied before it ends its loop.  However, because we only have an overview of some of the processes, there are still activities we don't have in detail so the domain model has yet to be patched up so that we could really see how things fit together.

The nice thing about having the activity diagram is that when it comes to define what classes are probably there, they are already evident and their relationships can be inferred already.  At the same time, use cases could be derived.  But at this point, I am beginning to appreciate UML diagrams all the more because we see with clarity how things are, without resorting to pages and pages of documentation, which could be quite painful :(

Anyhow, there are other things that I've learned while trying to conduct meetings and interviews with clients in order to understand them better:
1. Be alert!
You never know what they will discuss.  However, it's really difficult to keep awake when the afternoon sun distracts you.  (It's the 1-3pm dead time, as we called it in college.)
2. If you can't be very alert, take lots of notes.
Sometimes these details they discuss will sink in to you anyhow.
3.  Have someone with you when you meet the client.
Just in case you miss something, your teammate can help you remember.  It makes it easier for you to analyze a bit later.
4. Get the documents that you need.
Sometimes there are details in the documents that would actually show you the behavior of the system, especially if you forget some of the things that have been discussed earlier by the point person.
5. Don't be shy.
Ask questions. Clarify matters.  Very obvious ;)  Though sometimes we don't do so when we're not alert.

As for coming up with diagrams that help us in the analysis of matters...
All I can say is that whiteboards rock!  And it helps to have a nifty magnetic eraser around, just so you don't forget that it's just there ;)

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The Learner

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a crafty cat who loves food, linux, anime and crafting.

business analyst by day, blogger by night. also a frustrated artist.