Navigating Use Case Priorities

In the mid-1980s, Ivar Jacobson introduced the world to what is now known as Use Cases. His mission was to create a way to describe the flow of events for a system. 

Today, this model is used by organizations (probably yours) in many different ways. The ability to describe the functionality of a system through its interactions with users holds great value. 

Think about your organization…do you have a list of projects? Are you finding it difficult to complete project requirements without exhausting the schedule and budget? If the answer is yes, use cases can provide the structure and allow for the accommodation of changes through the project life cycle. But maybe you already knew that… 



So, perhaps the more important question is – How is your organization prioritizing use cases?  

Businesses accumulate use cases and typically exercise them annually to prioritize their budgets.  As this is in practice today, you may be wondering why a consulting company offers a service to provide use case prioritization and roadmaps. 

Over the years, we observed that projects tend to fall into three categories – Increasing Revenue, Improving Efficiency, and Reducing Risk – all areas that allow businesses to show value in budgeted projects. In the data management world (where we operate), this often amounts to picking a technology to address a nagging data problem. 

A company has a requirement to understand the impact of each product/manufacturing component, weather patterns, transportation timelines, etc. to predict an accurate, real-time delivery window for each customer order. That requirement needs to be broken up into discrete measurable use cases. Through our Data Delta discovery methodology, it is learned a particular order can’t be tied to a unique customer within the current data reviewed. If the company had pursued this path without a discovery phase, there would be no way to justify this massive investment.   

This doesn’t mean that the tools were bad or that the processes currently in place are wasted efforts. Customers receive orders every day so the delivery process works but what was discovered was that revenue could be improved if additional attributes were added to an order and that order tied into the delivery systems.  Once the new architecture was in place, processes could be greater enhanced to improve efficiencies in the delivery process. 

Approaching Your Destination

The Data Delta MethodTM helps us view use cases differently. We approach the use case definition from the perspective of the desired outcome. Using the Product Delivery prediction example above, there were several key use case definitions, each with certain outcomes that needed to be solved first in order to achieve the greater outcome (how do you define customer, what is a product, what ties a product to a customer for delivery, etc.).  We drill into the “how” per use case and keep digging until we have a specific KPI defined.  

Utilizing our system, the “use case” becomes a 90-day project that clearly defines: 

  1. Costs
  2. Risk
  3. Change management
  4. Ownership
  5. Operationalization 
  6. Measurable financial benefits 
  7. Data which is required

Perhaps a series of increasingly valuable 90-day projects will leverage more and different data significance that can then be used to move the needle on other KPIs on which a team is measured.  

When this approach is in place it is possible to score and rank projects and data quality improves iteratively. Change is managed. Measurement is in dollars. The “Roadmap” becomes evident and every project can be linked to the organization’s goals.  

If you are interested in learning more about any of these topics, connect with an expert today!