The essence of Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling (FCO-IM) is modeling the communication. Employees exchange facts using communication all the time. For example: "Invoice 1238 has an invoice date 1-1-1999". FCO-IM models that communication, the facts in natural language. This article explains the importance of communication as the starting point for fact based modeling.

Introduction

Developers sometimes make it sound easy, and people tend to agree with 'easy'. Simply find the entities, add their attributes and relationships, and the data model is complete. Or simply start scrumming and developing, and in due time all will be sorted out and the data model is not that important to start with.

However this way of working will only obfuscate the required business knowledge at hand. While this approach is probably heavily influenced by communication of IT and business, this not captured in a secure and precise manner. For a small IT system that may suffice for the costs may be low, and there may be no need for data integration. If there's any documentation or data model, this is probably lacking the communication and real examples as provided by the business in the first place. This leaves room for interpretation, cannot be easily validated and lacks proper examples to illustrate the usage.

Users may have a subjective perspective on their data. These potentially diverting perspectives need proper integration to end up with a solid and meaningful IT system, or IT landscape. To have an IT sollution serve everybody's need, all stakeholders needs to agree on the data and their meaning. For various management reasons the IT requirements need to presented in a manner that every employee, IT and business, can easily verify and agree upon.

Subjective

Every employee has a personal perspective on reality. This perspective is based upon a personal experience. After a longer period of experience the most basic and fundamental truths are not longer communicated. Employees will no longer realize the importance of those basic requirements: "An invoice always requires an invoice date. If you've never done any accounting you may not realize these fundamental requirements." Life is full of these examples, and employees will not talk IT through all the basics to come up with a decent set of requirements for any IT system. Especially if the communication and real examples are skipped in the first place.

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

Objective

Employees need to communicate with each other to perform their work. Data needs gets exchanged through forms, reports and IT systems. By interviewing employees and modeling their data as communicated, the models may show different meanings or lack requirements.

A communication oriented data model is essential for it serves multiple stakeholders and shared business knowledge. This helps identify communication issues, as well as IT requirements issues. That way of working is hard, but very efficient in both the short and long term, and brings down costs and risks for the business.

Modeling the communication using natural language and real examples, debunks the type level discussions and misunderstandings from the very start. It will illustrate there exists no objective reality, only facts shared and agreed upon through communication by multiple stakeholders.

Intersubjective

Modeling communicating leads to knowledge documentation of more than one stakeholder. 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 information model. An information model completely based upon the communication between employees, fully expressed using natural language as used by the business itself, filled with real examples. 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 and cost effective method available.

Conclusion

Information modeling using natural language is the closest to a so-called objective data model you will get. In that approach there will be no room for ambigious 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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