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Editor's note: The first part of this article can be found here.



Requirements Definition For Application Modernization

Along with a sound understanding of what exists in terms of business process and the applications that support it (the as-is state), it is also necessary to determine the "future-state" business context. In other words, given this extracted knowledge of current business processes, what derived set of business requirements, rules, and processes will fulfill your business objectives?

Many enterprises have found that establishing this context is best facilitated through a combination of textual statements of requirements and rules along with a set of traceable business process diagrams. The textual statements are usually categorized according to an appropriate taxonomy (e.g. business objective, business rule, business requirement, etc) which collectively we'll refer to as the "Business Needs," while business processes are best expressed using business process diagrams that use a more basic process notation, supporting the following element types:

1. Roles - "who" is performing the activity? This is commonly represented using "swimlanes;"

2. Activities - the tasks performed by the role;

3. Decisions - the decisions made by the roles and to specify associated conditions;

4. Start & End - clear indication of where the process begins and ends, with ability to specify any pre- or post-conditions;

5. Nesting - the ability to abstract or "nest" portions of a process and denote it with a special symbol; and

6. Free Form Notes - the ability to add unrestricted notes (i.e. text of any size and position).

Through the use of business process diagrams combined with traceable textual lists, requirements authors are able to precisely establish context for the requirements definition effort.

This business process for the future-state is something that can dramatically affect both the modernization effort and the long-term impact of the application, in terms of life-cycle cost and effectiveness. It is crucial at this time of renewal that the future-state business process be made as simple as possible, while still meeting the business objectives. Opportunities to consolidate similar processes, remove redundancy, and streamline sequences though challenging at times, should also be explored. Such simplifications can pay significant dividends by reducing complexity of the application that will support those processes, the software development effort that will create the processes, and the application's ongoing maintenance.

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