What is Use Case Basics & Diagrams?

In our tutorial series on Business Analysis Fundamentals, we are starting with Use Case Basics. Use Case Diagrams are central to use case modeling. Use cases are one of the easiest ways to capture the requirements.

This series is going to cover the basics of many business analysis skills like user stories, sequence diagrams, activity diagrams and many more. The purpose of publishing this business analysis fundamentals tutorials series is to provide a basic understanding of business analysis skills for everyone, who is new to these concepts.

What is a Use Case?

A use case is a pictorial notation to represent high-level requirements from a user perspective. Use case diagrams comprise 3 elements – the actor, use case and association link. A typical use case is represented as shown below:


Use case diagrams, however, can represent very limited information. So, we create use case specifications document to add more detailed information. Later in this tutorial, we are going to look at the format of the use case specification document as well.

Who is an actor in Use Case Diagrams?

An actor is an external entity who is likely to interact with the proposed software system. The actor is always an outside entity like a user, another system, administrator, finance manager etc. Any entity in the system like a database, can not be an actor. An actor is represented as shown below:


Use Case in use case diagrams

An oval shape represents a use case in use case diagrams. A use case represents an interaction or functionality of the system. The notation for a use case is as shown below:


Use Cases example

Let’s look at a section of a requirements document and identify the use cases:

A user has to login into the system to book the flight tickets. Logged in users will also have the facility to use discount coupon codes to avail of discounts. The users can search for the flights on any domestic route and for any day. However, they can’t do it on the same day.

How do you identify Use Cases?

In the above case, we can look for sections representing interaction points. The easiest way to look for them is to look for action verbs. I have marked these use cases with underlines as shown below:

A user has to login into the system to book the flight tickets. Logged in users will also have the facility to use discount coupon codes to avail discounts. The users can search for the flights on any domestic route and for any day.

The use cases are:

  • Login into the system
  • Book flight tickets
  • Use discount codes
  • Avail discounts
  • Search for the flights

The use case diagram for the above example is as shown below:


Use case diagram is central to the use case modelling. All the other diagrams like activity diagrams, sequence diagrams, and state model diagrams are created using the use case diagram.

You can also notice that I have not created the use case for “Avail discounts”. Avail discounts is an actually a result of “enter discount coupons”. The discount is applied to the total bill amount and in that case, it is just a calculated field, which needs to be tested. It’s possible to have these cases which represent an action but may not be an interaction. In these cases, these are not candidates for being use cases.

Learn More – Data Analysis Skills for Business Analysts

Use Case specifications

Use case specifications are an integral part of every use case diagram. The specifications add important details to the use case diagrams. These details are:


The scenarios describe the positive and negative workflows related to each use case.


Understanding the basics of use cases is a fundamental requirement for any business analyst, as it forms the backbone of requirement gathering and analysis. In this article, we have covered the essential elements of use cases, including actors, triggers, and scenarios, as well as the benefits they offer in terms of clarity, completeness, and traceability.

By mastering the basics of use cases, you'll be able to create robust and effective requirements that meet the needs of all stakeholders. You'll also be able to identify potential issues and risks early on in the project, leading to a smoother and more successful project delivery.

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The ECBA certification is a highly respected industry credential that recognizes your knowledge and proficiency in business analysis. With Techcanvass's ECBA certification training program, you'll gain the skills and confidence you need to ace the certification exam and take your career to new heights.

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