The Data Modeling Addict July 2011

Excerpt from Data Modeling for the Business: A Handbook for Aligning the Business with IT using High-Level Data Models
by Steve Hoberman, Donna Burbank, and Chris Bradley


This is the third in a series of articles covering the ten steps for completing the High-Level Data Model (HDM), which is also known as a subject area model or conceptual data model. In our first article I provided an overview of the HDM and in our last article I talked about the first of the ten steps, Identify Model Purpose. In this article I will explain the second of these ten steps, Identify Model Stakeholders. Here are all ten steps as a reference (the step in bold is the focus on this article):

  1. Identify model purpose.

  2. Identify model stakeholders.

  3. Inventory available resources.

  4. Determine type of model.

  5. Select approach.

  6. Complete an audience-view HDM.

  7. Incorporate enterprise terminology.

  8. Signoff.

  9. Market.

  10. Maintain.

An HDM stakeholder is someone who will be affected directly or indirectly by the model that is produced during the modeling sessions.  As you might expect, when the purpose of the HDM is to capture an existing or proposed section of the business, the builders tend to be people who know the business, such as business analysts and business users. Similarly, when the purpose of the HDM is to capture an existing or proposed application, the builders tend to be more technical, such as developers and database administrators. The users of the model though, could be anyone from business and/or IT.

Participation is required from both business and IT roles for success. I remember one project I worked on where only IT people showed up to build the HDM. As enthusiastic as we all were to build the model and get support for the project, it was a losing effort, because without the business, the model lost credibility and the project therefore eventually lost financial support.

The stakeholders play a number of roles that would be useful in building and using the HDMs. Table 1 identifies which roles typically build and use the HDM.

Table 1  Model Stakeholder Functions

With the exception of the trainer, who can use the model as a teaching aid to explain key application or business concepts to application users or new hires, all other roles can be used as a resource in building the HDM. Those with more of a business-oriented background can help build the business-focused view and those with more of a technical background can help build the application-focused view.

A subset of the builders and users listed in the Table 1 will be the builders and users of your specific HDM. Those identified as users are required to sign off on the model. The signoff will be discussed in Step 8.

With the large potential number of participants, all modeling activities must be time-boxed. By dedicating half a day, a day, or a week and using techniques such as meetings with free pizza and ice cream, the HDM can be built successfully.

In the next column, I will go into detail on Step 3, Inventory Available Resources.


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About Steve Hoberman

Steve Hoberman is a world-recognized innovator and thought-leader in the field of data modeling. He has worked as a business intelligence and data management practitioner and trainer since 1990.  Steve is known for his entertaining, interactive teaching and lecture style (watch out for flying candy!) and is a popular, frequent presenter at industry conferences, both nationally and internationally. Steve is a columnist and frequent contributor to industry publications, as well as the author of Data Modeler’s Workbench and Data Modeling Made Simple. He is the founder of the Design Challenges group and inventor of the Data Model Scorecard™. Please visit his website to learn more about his training and consulting services, and to sign up for his Design Challenges! He can be reached at