The data model is a critical tool for managing the data as an enterprise asset. It is to data as a chart of accounts is to the financial assets. The model, when represented as an entity relationship (ER) diagram, represents business rules pertaining to the data using a format that facilitates the creation of the physical tables for storing the data. Model creation is a collaborative effort. The business data stewards provide the input (e.g., data elements, relationships, definitions) and the data modeler represents these in the business data model.

The highest-level model is a subject area model. This model identifies the 10 to 20 major groupings of data for the company. Typical subject areas include customers, products, locations and human resources. The subject area model is useful for assigning data stewardship responsibilities and for organizing the business data model. The data stewardship responsibilities are often aligned with subject areas, and with this model, the steward(s) responsible for a specific entity can be quickly identified. This further minimizes the potential for the same data being addressed by multiple data stewards. Grouping entities within a subject area provides a more readable model because relationships within subject areas are more common than relationships between subject areas. The presentation can be further aided by color coding the entities based on the subject area.

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