Communication Oriented

The essence of Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling (FCO-IM) is modeling the communication. Employees constantly communicate facts, for instance "Invoice 1238 has an invoice date 1-1-1950". FCO-IM models the communication of the facts. This article explains the importance of fact based modeling.

Introduction

Systems designers and developers make it sound easy, and we may tend to agree. Simply recognize the entity types, add some attributes and relationships and the data model is complete. Or start scrumming and in due time all will be sorted out in the end.

However this way of working will only obfuscate the knowledge and the information at hand. For a small system this approach may suffice since the impact of development costs is low, and there may be no data integration requirement. And still the data being used is probably modeled in an abstract manner. This leaves room for interpretation and cannot easily be validated.

Users may have a personal perspective on the data. This diversity of perspectives needs a proper integration to end up with a solid meaningful system. To have a system serve everybody's need, everybody needs to agree on the data used in the system. System design needs to presented in a manner that every employee can verify and agree upon.


 


Subjective

Every employee has a personal working experience and education history. This employee will have a very personal perspective on the reality called work. He will explain his work based upon his own background. And as a matter of fact, this employee will not talk about the most basic stuff, for this employee will no longer realize the importance of the basics: "An invoice always requires an invoice date. If you've never done any accounting you may not realize these fundamental requirements." This small example illustrates the reality of the subjective.

These perspectives are subjective, every employee has it's personal view of the work in the company.

Objective

Employees need to communicate with each other. Data needs to be exchanged through forms, reports and systems. By interviewing employees and modeling the data being communicated, the model may show different meanings or lacking requirements.

The communication oriented data model is essential since it serves multiple employees and shared business knowledge. It's about helping employees perform their work more efficient and bring down costs and errors for the business.

Modeling the communication will immediately show the differences and inconsistencies. Modeling the communication debunks the type level discussions and misunderstandings from the start. This approach is a difficult and sometimes painful process but will benefit the entire business and all employees. This proces illustrates there exists no objective reality, only communication multiple people may agree upon.


 


Intersubjective

Modeling communicating leads to knowledge documentation. The terms, meaning, verbalization and examples illustrate the absence of an objective reality in itself. It only represents the intersubjectivity reality of the collective of all employees involved.

By ironing out all the differences we can accomplish this shared perspective, a shared consistent and well defined communication between employees. Differences are identified and have their place in the bigger picture.

Agreement on such a model can only be reached by using language with real examples. The examples used and agreed upon are called facts.

Communication Oriented

Modeling communication using facts is a correct, precise and valuable method. Facts are statements which employees can evaluate to be true or false. This premise is required to reach any agreement. A common intersubjective reality is required to validate the assembled facts as being true to the business.

Elementary facts are verbalized to form a clear and solid data model. A data model completely based upon the communication between employees, fully expressed using natural language as used by the business itself. Using natural language may not be the easiest manner to model for an unexperienced data modelers, but it certainly is the most precise, the most meaningful and most durable.


Conclusion

Data modeling using natural language is the closest to an objective data model you will get. There remains no room for unclear definitions, meaning or specifications. Facts are written down in commonly understood language and illustrated with real examples. It ends the individual subjective interpretations of data models. It is elegant, plain, simple and clear. It communicates facts in natural language as basis for a solid data model and common understanding.

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