I have two very different stories regarding data models. First, when I worked with First American Corporation, the head of Marketing kept a data model for the marketing systems hanging on a wall in her office. I thought this was a little unusual for a highlevel executive, but she explained to me that data was critical for most of the initiatives that she puts in place.
Before she can approve a marketing campaign or new strategy, she likes to confirm that the data exists in the systems and that it's accessible to her analysts. She has become very good at understanding ERDs over the years because they had been such an important communications tool for her to use with her own people and with IT. On a very different note, here is a story I received from a friend of mine who heads up an IT department:
"We were working on a business critical, time dependent development effort, and VERY senior management decided that the way to ensure success was to have the various teams do technical design walkthroughs to senior management on a weekly basis. My team was responsible for the data architecture and database design. How could senior management, none of whom probably had ever designed an Oracle architecture, evaluate the soundness of our work? So, I had my staff prepare the following for the one (and only) design walkthrough our group was asked to do. First, we merged several existing data models and then duplicated each one . . . that is, every entity and relationship printed twice (imitating, if asked, the redundant architecture). Then we intricately color coded the model and printed the model out on a plotter and printed one copy of every inch of model documentation we had.
On the day of the review, I simply wheeled in the documentation and stretched the plotted model across the executive boardroom table. 'Any questions,' I asked? 'Very impressive,' they replied. That was it! My designs were never questioned again." Barbara Wixom

1. From these two stories, what do you think is the user's role in data modeling?
2. When is it appropriate to involve users in the ERD creation process?
3. How can users help analysts create better ERDs?

  • CreatedMarch 13, 2013
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