Introduction to Modeling with UML for the Business Analyst

by Michael Curry


This short tutorial developed is a non-technical introduction to documenting the design of information systems using the Unified Modeling Language or UML. The intended audience is business professionals with no experience in designing business information systems. However, it is expected the reader has experience using information systems and a need to collaborate with other business and IT professionals to develop new technology based solutions.

Why We Model Systems

What are systems? They are a combination of hardware, software and peripherals collectively working in an environment where together they fulfill a need of those who use the system. Because there are often many intangible components, it is difficult to create an accurate representation or model. And yet accurately modeling the system should always a pre-requisite of building one. Having good models allows others to understand what is being built and how it will work. Because business management often has the most to gain from a new system that will automate value chains in unique and innovative ways they should be involved in modeling.

Introduction to UML

The Unified Modeling Language or UML is a common language that stakeholders from many different backgrounds can use to discuss complex systems with very little training. While UML is simple to begin using, it is also highly extensible and capable of documenting fine grain details (down to the single line of code). Consequently, UML has the most applicability for the information technology team who must fully document and define a system before they can build it. However, because of the intuitive graphical nature of UML even the least technical team member can benefit from viewing UML diagrams and make contributions to refine and improve the system's design.

business analysts are most active early in a project as they document the systems capabilities

As the diagram above illustrates, business analysts are most active early in a project as they document the systems capabilities. Ideally, their work modeling the system would be used by the technology team to implement a solution which (hopefully) end users benefit from once the system is deployed.

Now that you know why we model systems and what UML is. In Part 2 of this tutorial we will dig into the details of UML. Please continue to Part 2

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