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Posted June 10, 2005
It's an honor that I can be the first to write a review of Howard's new book 'UML for the IT Business Analyst'. Finally, a book has been written that 'connects the dots' between the buiness community and the software engineering community. Howard has written the book that I wish I had in my library when I was at university and later while first learning to use the UML to perform OO Analysis and Design. The book is extremely well-written and easy to understand. Not only would it make an excellent college textbook for both business and computer science majors, it is a book that every business analyst, project / program and product manager will want to keep close at hand as a desk reference as it is filled with all sorts of real-world examples of applicable 'best practices'. Howard has also managed to bridge the long-standing communication gap between the business and engineering communities. Using the UML to capture, model, and analyze requirements is a stroke of pure genius -- as the UML is a powerful 'translation' tool -- alomost a kind of 'universal translator' that allows the business world to effectively communicate with and be understood by the software engineering world. Howard provides some very helpful templates, as well as special sections early on where he clearly translates some of the more obscure and complex definitions of the UML. These 'What they say:' sections provide the actual textual definitions from the UML 2.0 specification. These are then followed by 'What they mean:' sections where Howard cleverly and clearly explains in simple 'layman's' terms just 'What they say'' REALLY means. I wish he would have included a laminated 'cheat- sheet' containing all of his 'What they mean:' translations on them. I would then copy it and hand it out to the sponsors, every key stakeholder, and every single team member in attendence for each new project 'kick-off' meeting. I would also make sure to give a copy to all project team members (developers, testers, and product support), and all subject matter experts and end-users who will participate in the requirements capture, modeling, and analysis phase of the project. In addition to these most helpful UML definitions, Howard provides an actual case study that allows the reader to literally 'walk-through' every single step of the process for producing a fully developed business requirements document. As a self-study tool or a college text 'UML for the IT Business Analyst' is written in such a way that an entire chapter's content can be 'locked in' memory by simply re-reading and reviewing the 'Chapter Objectives' and 'Chapter Summary' sections. As for the design and formatting of the book -- again Howard demonstrates that he clearly understands design, balance, aesthetics, use of white-space... Every chapter and each individual sub-section is formatted for the highest readability, and each table, chart, diagram or sample artifact, is fully described in meticulous detail. The writing itself is smooth and flowing (which is generally quite challenging to do with books written for both a highly technical engineering audience as well as a much more business focused audience). Finally, the case study is completely believable -- based upon 'real world' experience and not some imaginary set of 'sunny day' scenarios used to explain theoretical principles. Howard has made it possible for the reader to literally use the chapters to set breakpoints and then 'step through' every event that happens during the capture, modeling, and analysis of business requirements leading to a thoroughly 'usable' set of UML-based artifacts. The BRD template alone is worth the investment to buy the book. In over 20 years of working in the computer industry, I have never seen a more thorough example of what should be included in a BRD -- it's that good! I truly thank Howard for writing this book as I belive that it provides much needed information as well as a fully
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