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What Are the Uses of UML for Business Analysis?

Page Coleman
Page Coleman

Unified Modeling Language (UML) can be used for various aspects of business analysis. The models may be created by a business analyst (BA) to depict both current and proposed business processes, promoting organizational change. UML for business analysis can also be used to capture business requirements, and to provide a starting point for designing and developing computer applications.

UML for business analysis offers different types of diagrams. Each type highlights certain aspects of business processes or system requirements. These diagrams may include swim lane diagrams, use case diagrams, activity diagrams and sequence diagrams.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

A swim lane diagram can be used for both business process and requirements analysis. This diagram shows a particular process, the actors in the process, and the interactions between actors, which can depict how a unit of work moves between actors. These diagrams are usually easy for non-technical users to understand, so they can confirm that the diagram is correct. Swim lane diagrams also make it easy to view redundancies or inefficiencies in a process so it can be improved. For example, if an item of work returns to an actor several times, it is possible that the process could be made more efficient by combining tasks to the work item is returned fewer times.

Use case diagrams specify at least one actor and a task that provides value to the actor(s). As an example, the actor may be Customer and the task to be accomplished is Order Merchandise. This UML for business analysis diagram very simply shows the system requirement for a feature that allows the actor to order merchandise.

Class diagrams are commonly used to help define business requirements for systems development. They show the types of objects, such as people or things, their relationships to each other, and their attributes and operations. As an example, an insurance company may have a policy management system with a class named Policies. The Policies class may have an attribute such as owner, and an operation such as payClaim.

Activity diagrams are useful for business process modeling because they depict workflow, and they can also be used as system requirements documents. An activity diagram will often show sequentially performed tasks. The model frequently has a start and end, decision points, and it indicates various responsible parties and their tasks. It also indicates which tasks can occur at the same time.

Sequence diagrams are another UML for business analysis tool that can be used at a business process level to describe how business objects currently interact. These diagrams may also be used for requirements for new applications. They depict calls, or messages, between objects, in the order in which they occur.

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