Learning the basics of a modeling technique is not the same
as learning how to use and apply it. Data modeling is particularly complex to
learn, because it requires the modeler to gain insights into an organization's
nature that do not come easily. For example, an analyst may be expected to come
into an organization and immediately understand subtleties about its structure
that may have evaded people who have worked there for years.
This book is intended to help those analysts who have learned
the basics of data modeling, but who are looking for help in discovering subtleties
and in obtaining the insights required to prepare a good model of a real business.
Moreover, the book is intended to help analysts produce models that are easier
to read, by virtue of standards of diagram structure and organization.
The book is based
on the assumption that the underlying structures of enterprises are similar, or
at least that they have similar components. Understanding those similarities gives
an analyst a starting model, which can then be massaged and adjusted as necessary
to match the specific circumstances of a particular company. This is not to say
that all companies' models will look the same. Quite the opposite is true. In
your author's experience, no two organizations' models have been identical. On
the other hand, widely differing organizations, from government health protection
agencies to oil refineries, have many similar components.
An analyst who has these components in his intellectual
tool kit is in a good position to grasp quickly what is unique about an enterprise
and to draw a data model that both embodies universal truths and specifically
represents the business at hand.
This book has a second audience as well: As a child of the
Sixties, I got into the business world only reluctantly. Among the problems I
faced was understanding just how business works. Even in business school, I was
never able to find an introductory-level course that described how it works as
a whole. Each course analyzed a specific area in detail, but none really provided
the overview I sought. It was only as I saw the patterns expressed in the structure
of business information that a business uses, that I began to come to grips with
the issues involved. Perhaps this book can be useful to a similarly disadvantaged
student trying to understand the nature of the business world.