5 April 2017
The market is constantly changing and almost every organization struggles to keep up with these changes. New technologies, increased competition, more data, revenue and cost pressures, and, certainly in Europe, regulatory requirements. Organizations must stay on top of all these data to make accurate decisions. This is where data modeling comes into the picture.
Steve Hoberman, Donna Burbank and Chris Bradley describe the importance of a high level data model and how to master the techniques of building one (2009 Technics Publications Data Modeling for the Business). A data model is a visual representation of the people, places, and things of interest to a business. It is used to facilitate communication between business people and technical staff. Designing a data model is not only vital, but also seen as best practice.
Designing a data model fits into the software development cycle where we design information blocks (silos), concentrating on local entities and logical dependencies between these entities (specific business ares). It will function as communication tool between business and technical staff.
An Enterprise Data Model connects the dots between the different business areas and represents the data of an entire organization. “The enterprise data model is the heart and soul of enterprise data architecture” (DAMA International 2010). Once completed it will look like an architect’s construction plan of a house. The construction workers will use this plan to build the house and will have to make adjustments during the construction process. An EDM is never finished, it’s a living document. Businesses evolve and your data model will need constant updates to stay in line with changing business requirements.
The concept of an Enterprise Data Model is more than 30 year old and in this period it created a lot of buzz. There are data modeling specialists in favor, and those against. One reason for the disharmony is the huge impact on a company’s day-to-day business. It’s not like a project plan where you handle some business requirements. In fact you bundle all business requirements as-is and to-be, and build your EDM. It’s a multi year plan and you need to find a balance in your daily business and the implementation of the EDM.
Given that it is so challenging, then why are so many people eager to have an Enterprise Data Model? An EDM is seen as saving costs in the software development cycle, and a tool to decrease the time to market. Therefor it’s very difficult to build a business case that should cover 10 years. Besides to the long term planning, you will have to sell the impact on every project and/or program, small or big.
Let’s start making a business case.