The second of the five killer questions: Purpose

The second of the five killer questions: Purpose

In the free Data Model Scorecard Validation Tool, there are five “killer” questions out of the over 150 questions that are part of the tool, that if answered improperly will automatically score the model with the lowest setting of “Poor”. If you’ve used the tool, you might have experienced one or more of these questions :L).

In the last post, I talked about the first of these questions, and in this post I’ll talk about the second question. This is the question on model purpose: Is there a well-defined purpose as to why the model was built?

We need to have a clear understanding how the model will help the organization. Examples of purposes are to validate requirements for a new application, provide the physical structures for a new database, evaluate vendor packages, understand a particular business area, or kick off an enterprise architecture or master data management initiative. A model is a precise communication tool, and therefore can be used to assist in many different types of efforts.

Knowing the value of a particular model makes it an easier sell and makes sure we stay true to its purpose and avoid shortcuts. For example, if we are building a data model for a healthcare organization, and are focusing on the physician subject area, introducing generic concepts such as Person or Party may not aid us in achieving our purpose if validating requirements is the reason behind the model. In other words, can we easily communicate with business users and analysts in confirming our understanding of Physician when only Party exists on the model? However, if our purpose is in constructing an enterprise architecture, concepts like Person or Party would make more sense.

Knowing the purpose of the model helps ensure we choose the right types of structures for communication.