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Keeping Development ‘On Track’ with Use-Case Slices at Dutch Railways

Use-Case 2.0 Makes the Connection

by Jordi Reineman, Manager of the department Analysis and Design at Dutch Railways (NS) - Printed in InfoQ August 2015

Within Nederlandse Spoorwegen / Dutch Railways (NS) we were struggling with the question of how to get from high level system requirements (features/epics) to the right level of specification to enable agile development. User stories were not a viable option for us as they provided too little information with too little context. Use-Case 2.0 is still a use case but its application has evolved. Use cases are “sliced up” to provide stories or scenarios for agile iterative development, which delivers lightweight stories to our outsourced development team just in time for development while providing NS with the big picture view to support the entire product lifecycle. This article describes how we made the transition from large use cases which were completely written before development to Use Case 2.0 and why this helps us to deliver apps faster and with the right business value.

Since 2012, we’ve been struggling within NS with the question how to get from high level system requirements (features/epics) to the right level of specification that enables agile development. We found that, when breaking up features into smaller stories without placing them in context, it is very easy to get ´lost´ in the abundance of individual stories and it becomes very difficult to determine whether you’re complete. The more stories you produce, the more this uncertainty grows and becomes a burden on the development team which leads to lower efficiency.

In 2013 I first heard of Use Case 2.0. at a conference on the topic, organized by Ivar Jacobson International, in conjunction with its in-country partner DiVetro. To learn more about Use Case 2.0. we ran a ½ day workshop at NS to introduce the practice.