CAT EYE: Thank you for your input. I do, however, disagree. I’ve read your post over and over and it comes through (to me) as though you’re not used to working on very large or complex problems. Please correct me by explaining an example so that I can better understand your approach.
In Web application (read: web applications that people are selling online), IA is huge and it takes a while. I’m not actually only referring to content when I discuss IA, but, rather, a very exhaustive process up front to uncover as many workflows and functional requirements as possible so that you’re not retrofitting critical pieces later on (which as Robert Simmons rightly points out is quite expensive).
Re: use cases, the idea that you wouldn’t want to have them because an engineer wouldn’t properly use them or wouldn’t care to is actually pretty surprising and slightly defeatist. Here’s a thought: How about the IA and the designer do an incredible job laying out the entire system in both visual and black and white deliverables so that the engineers’ job is easier. That way, the use cases become a reference, not something to which you fall asleep or misunderstand. (By the way, there are some engineers who have read this and may also disagree and feel somewhat slighted.)
Here is where the truth hurts: BIG design up front saves BIG money down the road when working on BIG projects.
If you’re on a smaller gig, then that’s fine as well; IA still has an important role. In the article I mentioned that you don’t need to use all the outlined deliverables.
Re: how boring a process it is…
If you go into any situation with the mentality that it is boring, then boring it will be. Make it fun. It’s a challenge to get some clients to focus, but that doesn’t mean, especially in the creative field, that you can’t find a pleasant way to execute a task.
Re: costing too much…
Again, don’t try to sell the whole thing if the client doesn’t need the whole thing. Use the pieces that fit the project. Try adjusting the deliverables to be at a higher level. That way you don’t give up the quality while saving costs.