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Business Rules, Business Meta Data & Data Stewardship Component of the Complete Meta Data Model

  • September 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

This column is adapted from the book Universal Meta Data Models by David Marco & Michael Jennings (John Wiley & Sons).

This month, we continue our examination of the complete meta data model with the business rules, business meta data and data stewardship component area of the model and the various subject areas that compose it.

The business rules, business meta data and data stewardship model component supports the business user view of the business. Having access to the business rules of an organization through implementation of the managed meta data environment (MME) is critical to the success of that organization. It provides one common source for documenting, maintaining and approving the rules that run an organization. This common repository of information enables decisions to be made quickly. Business meta data allows us to organize data according to the way the business views and understands the data. Data stewards are individuals in an organization who act as conduits between technology and the business portion of a company. Such people align the business needs with the technology supporting them. It is critical that an organization establish data stewards for these and many other reasons. By assigning data stewards, we empower users to take ownership of their meta data, thus improving overall corporate performance.

This component of the complete meta model contains three subject areas. The business rules subject area addresses the components that compose business rules. The business meta data subject area references meta data, which provides the context to the content of the data that a business user will access. The method in which the user accesses the business meta data is also captured. The data stewardship subject area describes the users who are responsible for the business direction, decisions and approvals that are documented in this portion of the model.

Business rules represent the logic applied to calculate or derive a business-related value. They are the rules that describe why data appears the way it does. It may contain a formula used to derive a value, or it may point to a warehouse element value that was derived directly from a source element. The formula may range from simple to very complex. Formulas may also contain processing logic. The most important entity in this subject area is the BUSINESS RULE. This entity contains the highest level information about the rules developed and approved by data stewards. These are the rules that are used within an organization's decision-making process. All of the other entities in this subject area provide further definition and clarification of the business rules. A BUSINESS RULE ASSOCIATION documents the relationship between BUSINESS RULEs. This entity points a business user to other rules that may provide additional information related to the BUSINESS RULE they are researching. The BUSINESS RULE RELATIONSHIP TYPE is a decode table.

Business meta data defines the information used to organize the data found in the data enterprise into subject areas and to describe the individuals who act on or are affected by the data. We create groupings of data that represent the way the data is viewed by the business. DATA GROUPs, DATA PACKAGEs and DATA ELEMENTs may be organized into subject areas to aid in the management of the data. SUBJECT AREAs allow the data to be organized the way the business uses the data and are not limited to a single database or hardware platform. Even if there are technical constraints that do not permit data to be linked within a particular database, that data can still be related through a SUBJECT AREA. SUBJECT AREA represents a high-level grouping of a business. It is used to classify business rules and business tables. BUSINESS GROUPs and BUSINESS ELEMENTs may be assigned to a SUBJECT AREA. The entities DATA ELEMENT SUBJECT AREA and DATA GROUP SUBJECT AREA are used to show this association. SUBJECT AREA BUSINESS RULE links a SUBJECT AREA to one or many BUSINESS RULE(s). The same BUSINESS RULE may also be attached to one or many SUBJECT AREA(s).

BUSINESS RULEs may apply to a specific DATA ELEMENT or DATA GROUP. Two entities, DATA GROUP BUSINESS RULE and DATA ELEMENT BUSINESS RULE, are used to associate them with a BUSINESS RULE. A DATA GROUP or DATA ELEMENT can be associated with many BUSINESS RULEs and a BUSINESS RULE may be associated with many DATA GROUPs and/or DATA ELEMENTs. The PERSON ENTITY contains information about the people that play roles within the organization. ORGANIZATION is used to organize people in a way that reflects their roles and assignments within an ORGANIZATION.

Data is the most important asset of a company. Data stewardship assigns users to the management, approval and maintenance of the data definitions and the corresponding business rules. A data steward acts as a conduit between technology and the business users. The steward assists in aligning the business needs with the technology that supports them. It is a data steward's responsibility to make sure that the business can make the optimum use of its data resources. Multiple data stewards may be assigned to the same business attribute. The different stewards perform different roles, ranging from an executive sponsor to the programmer who maintains the repository information. A DATA STEWARD defines a PERSON who is a conduit between technology and the business areas of a company. Such a person aligns the business needs with the technology supporting them. A DATA STEWARD is a general term for a person who may fill one of many roles. The details about the PERSON performing the role of DATA STEWARD can be found via the relationship between DATA STEWARD and PERSON. A DATA STEWARD may be assigned to many other entities. The entities in this component that have a relationship with DATA STEWARD are DATA ELEMENT, DATA GROUP, DATA PACKAGE, SUBJECT AREA and BUSINESS RULE. Each of these entities may have one or many DATA STEWARD(s), and each DATA STEWARD may be associated with one or many of these entities. An associative entity exists to resolve each of these relationships. These entities are BUSINESS RULE DATA STEWARD, DATA ELEMENT STEWARD, DATA GROUP STEWARD, DATA PACKAGE STEWARD and SUBJECT AREA STEWARD.

Next month, we will take a closer look at the XML, messaging and business transactions component area of the complete meta data model.

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