2-Day Seminar

Business-Oriented Data Modelling
A Business-Oriented Approach to Entity-Relationship Modelling  

Register On-line:
9-10 October 2017, London

PDF File IRM UK Public Courses 2017

Click here for an in-house quote request or for further information regarding in-house training.

Data modelling is critical to the design of quality databases, but is also essential to other requirements specification techniques such as workflow modelling, use cases, and service definition because it ensures a common understanding of the things – the entities – that processes and applications deal with.  This workshop introduces entity-relationship modelling from a non-technical perspective, and explores contextual, conceptual, and detailed modelling techniques that maximise user involvement.

Data modelling was originally developed as a tool for improving database design, but has become a fundamental requirements definition technique for all business analysts, whether they are primarily concerned with data structures, application logic, user interface behavior, or business processes. 

A key driver is that applying data modelling early in requirements definition allows analysts and clients to develop a common understanding of the business entities (e.g., Customer, Order, Product, Part, etc.) that business processes and information systems deal with, their interrelationships, and the rules that govern them.  This eliminates the problems of inconsistent terminology and conflicting assumptions that otherwise plague application development, package selection and implementation, system integration, and process redesign projects.

This workshop introduces entity-relationship modelling from a non-technical perspective, thoroughly covering the basic components of a data model - entities, relationships, attributes, and identifiers.  In addition to showing how and when to use these components in developing a data model, it includes far more advice on the process of developing a data model than other courses, including specific methods for getting subject matter experts involved and maintaining their commitment. The content is presented within the context of a clearly-defined, three-phase data modelling methodology that supports progressive detail and precision.

  • This workshop is packed with practical tips, techniques, “scripts,” checklists, and guidelines for the analyst. All of the material is based on years of project experience; abstract theory is avoided.
  • The emphasis is on “business-friendly” techniques which support and encourage the full involvement of non-technical subject matter experts, which is essential for quality data models

Learning Objectives

  • Apply a variety of techniques that support the active participation and engagement of business professionals and subject matter experts
  • Use entity-relationship modelling to depict facts and rules about business entities at different levels of detail, including conceptual (overview) and logical (detailed) models
  • Use top-down and bottom-up approaches to initiating development of a data model
  • Recognise the four basic patterns in data modelling, and when to use them
  • Effectively use definitions and assertions (“rules”) as part of data modelling
  • Use an intuitive approach to data normalisation within an entity-relationship model
  •  Apply various techniques for discovering and meeting additional requirements
  •   Read a data model, and communicate with specialists using the appropriate terminology

Course Outline

Essentials of Data Modelling

  • What really is a data model?
  • Essential components – entities, relationships, and attributes
  • Hands-on case study – how data modelling resolved business issues, and supported other business analysis techniques
  • The basics of diagramming – Entity-Relationship Diagrams (“ERDs”)
  • The narrative parts of a data model – definitions and assertions
  • Group exercise – getting started on a data model, then refining it
  • Common misconceptions about data models and data modelling
  • The real purpose of a data model
  • Three types of data models – different levels of details for different purposes
  • Contextual, Conceptual, and Logical Data Models – purpose, audience, definition, and examples
  • How data models help in process improvement, requirements definition, and reporting
  • Forward- and reverse-engineering uses of data modelling
  • Overview of a three-phase methodology for developing a data model
  • References – books and useful web sites

Establish the Initial Conceptual Data Model

  • Top down vs. bottom up approaches to beginning a data model – when is each appropriate?
  • Advantages of a bottom-up approach
  • A bottom-up approach focusing on collecting and analyzing terminology
  • A structure for sorting terms and discovering entities
  • Exercise – developing an initial conceptual data model
  • Entities – what they are and are not
  • Guidelines for naming and defining entities
  • Three questions to help you quickly develop clear, useful entity definitions
  • Five criteria that entities must satisfy, and four common errors in identifying entities
  • Exercise – identifying flawed entities
  • Identifying relationships
  • Fundamental vs. irrelevant or transitive relationships
  • Good and bad relationship names
  • Multiplicity or cardinality – 1:1, 1:M, and M:M relationships, and useful facts about each
  • Common errors and special cases – recursive, multiple, and supertype-subtype relationships
  • Attributes – guidelines and types
  • Attributes in conceptual models vs. logical models

Develop the Initial Logical Data Model By Adding Rigour, Structure and Detail

  • What’s involved in developing a logical model – shifting the focus from entities to attributes
  • Multi-valued, redundant, and constrained attributes, with simple patterns for dealing with each
  • An understandable guide to normalisation – first, second, and third normal forms
  • Higher order (fourth and fifth) and Boyce-Codd normal forms
  • Guidelines for a smooth progression from conceptual to logical
  • Exercise – developing the initial logical data model
  • Four types of entities – kernel, characteristic, associative, and reference
  • Guidelines and patterns for dealing with each type of entity
  • How to draw your E-R Diagram for maximum readability and correctness
  • Optional and mandatory relationships
  • Considering time and history when looking at relationships
  • Six questions to ask whenever a data range appears in a data model
  • Identifying and dealing with transitive relationships – clues and proof

Refine and extend the logical data model by discovering and meeting new requirements

  • Attribute granularity – definitions of non-atomic and semantically overloaded attributes
  • Guidelines for making non-atomic attributes atomic
  • The perils of semantic overload, and what to do about it
  • Dealing with derived attributes, and when to show them on the model
  • A classword-based approach to attribute naming
  • Typical attribute documentation
  • A common source of confusion and disagreement – primary keys
  • What primary keys are, what they’re really for, and three essential criteria
  • Alternate and foreign keys
  • Why meaningless primary keys are used, and guidelines for creating them
  • Guidelines for reference data
  • Pulling it together – key techniques and guidelines covered in the class so far
  • Using event analysis to discover additional requirements
  • Exercise – using event analysis and extending a data model
  • Presentation by teams of their solutions
  • How data modelling relates to process modelling, use cases, and services
  • A layered framework for business analysts
  • How other techniques (e.g., workflow modelling) support data modelling
  • A three-step procedure for meeting new requirements
  • Advice on extending the model in an orderly fashion
  • Exercise – meeting new requirements on the data model
  • Recap – contextual, conceptual, and logical data models
  • Different skills and participants for conceptual vs. logical modelling
  • How the modeler’s/analyst’s role changes as a project progresses
  • A little philosophy for effective data modelling
  • The four Ds of data modelling – definition, dependency, detail, and demonstration
  • Wrap-up – the approach we followed throughout the class


  • New or experienced Data Modellers, Data Analysts, and DBAs will benefit from the workshop’s practical methods and guidelines.
  • Business Analysts and Application Designers/Developers who need to understand data modelling and how it supports requirements definition or process analysis.
  • Business Professionals and Managers who need to understand how this technique can uncover and resolve inconsistency in business terminology, policy, and rules.

Speaker Biography

Alec Sharp Alec Sharp
With over 30 years of consulting experience, Alec Sharp has provided hands-on data modelling expertise throughout North America, Asia, and Europe –  this workshop is based on real-world experience, not textbook theory. Alec has also delivered hundreds of Data Modelling and Advanced Data Modelling workshops, and top-rated presentations at international conferences, including “The Seven Deadly Sins of Data Modelling,” “Data Modelling – New Uses for New Times,” “The Lost Art of Conceptual Modelling,” “Getting Traction for Data Modelling – Winning Over the Masses,” and “The Human Side of Data Modelling.” Alec is the principal author of “Workflow Modelling, Second Edition” (Artech House, 2009) which is a consistent best-seller in the field, and is widely used as an MBA text and consulting guide.

Seminar Fee
£1,245 + VAT (£249) = £1,494

Register On-line:
9-10 October 2017, London

Group Booking Discount

  • 2-3 Delegates - 10%
  • 4-5 Delegates - 20%
  • 6+ Delegates - 25%

Multiple Seminar Booking Discount

Attend more than one of our seminars and you will be entitled to the following discounts:

  • 2nd course 10%
  • 3rd course 15%
  • 4th course 20%
  • 5th+ course 25%

Please note, only one discount can be applied at any one time.

9-10 October 2017
VENUE: etc.venues Marble Arch  
Garfield House,
86 Edgware Rd,
London W2 2EA
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7793 4200

London Accommodation: IRM UK in association with JP Events Ltd has arranged special discounted rates at all venues and at other hotels nearby the venue. Please visit the JP Events website for further information.

Email: jane@jpetem.com Tel +44 (0)84 5680 1138 Fax +44 (0)84 5680 1139.

In-House Training
If you require a quote for running this course in-house, please contact us with the following details:

  • Subject matter and/or speaker required
  • Estimated number of delegates
  • Location (town, country)
  • Number of days required (if different from the public course)
  • Preferred date

Please contact:
Jeanette Hall
E-mail: jeanette.hall@irmuk.co.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8866 8366
Fax: +44 (0) 2036 277202

Speaker: Alec Sharp
Alec Sharp

Multiple Seminar Booking Discount
Attend more than one of our seminars and you will be entitled to the following discounts:

  • 2nd course 10%
  • 3rd course 15%
  • 4th course 20%
  • 5th+ course 25%

Group Booking Discount

  • 2-3 Delegates - 10%
  • 4-5 Delegates - 20%
  • 6+ Delegates - 25%

We regret that this offer cannot be used in conjunction with the Multiple Seminar Discount or any other discount.