Documenting a data model

Subject: Documenting a data model
From: "Hanlie Pretorius" <hpretorius -at- pnp -dot- co -dot- za>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2002 09:27:53 +0200


I'm a lone writer in a large retail company. My boss just walked in here
and said that they've lost the data model for our information system that
serves stores, regional offices and the company's head office. So, he needs
to have the model re-documented. He wants to document what each table does
and why it exists. The whole system has about 1000 tables.

I have no experience in this field (and no time to do it), so he wants to
get a contractor in. I searched the techwr-l archives but found no answers
to my questions and I would appreciate it greatly if list members could help
me with the following questions:

1. How does one document a data model whose audience is primarily business
people (not techies)? Would it be a plain English document or would one use
entity relationship diagrams? Would you go down to field level?

2. Which persons in our business need to give input on the document?
Originally, mostly business people designed the model but now it is
administrated and implemented by data administrators.

3. What should be the relationship between me and the contractor? Should
s/he be subordinate to me and transfer her/his skills or should s/he work

4. Is there anyone on this list who lives in Cape Town, South Africa, who
feels they have the skills to do this? ;-)

Hanlie Pretorius

Technical Writer
Pick 'n Pay Information Services
Cape Town
South Africa

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