The Data Warrior

Changing the world, one data model at a time. How can I help you?

Archive for the tag “best practice”

Five Days Only – Get it Free: A Check List for Doing Data Model Design Reviews

Later this week I travel to Oracle HQ for my first product briefing as an Oracle ACE Director. In celebration of this momentous event, I have decided to give all me readers and followers a gift:

For the next five days (Sept 24 – 28, 2012), my first solo Kindle book will be ON SALE for the low, low price of FREE!

Don’t delay. You can get it here: A Check List for Doing Data Model Design Reviews: Kent Graziano: Kindle Store.

In case you missed my earlier post about the book, here is a brief description:

Tired of crappy data models and whiney data modelers? Need to deliver a high quality design in a short period of time? Need a better way to enforce standards? As part of trying to be more “agile” in my approach to developing databases, I have adopted a concept from the agile world: peer reviews. Before any data model moves from analysis (logical model) into development (physical model), the development team needs to gather to review what the modeler has done. If the model passes the review (almost never on the first round), the physical model is constructed. The physical model is then subjected to a rigorous review as well (including metadata). Only then can DDL be produced and deployed. This guide book will discuss the actual modeling and design process I follow and give you a check list of questions to ask in any model review session. This is a “take no prisoners” approach that has left many a would-be data modeler in a withering heap, but in the end you will have solid models and designs that deliver value.

The book has been doing pretty good (sells for $2.99 normally) but it could do better. 😉 Currently it is #32 if you search for Data Modeling under Kindle ebooks.

Will you help me get it into the top 10?

[ Update: as of Sept 24, 2012 at 12:45 PM CDT the book is now #2 in the Kindle store for Databases! Thanks everyone. Let’s keep it rollin’]

[ Update #2: as of Sept 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM CDT the book is now #1 in the Kindle store for Databases! How long can we keep it there?]

Head on over to Amazon and get it today: A Check List for Doing Data Model Design Reviews.

Thanks a bunch. Hope you can put the information to good use.

Oracle ACE Director


P.S. Do me another favor? After you get the book (for FREE), please log back into Amazon and leave a review so other data modelers know if it is a worthwhile book for them to read.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to like this post! And click the Follow button (upper right) if you want to get my posts sent to your email directly.

Five ways to make Data Modeling Fun

While on my recent family vacation, I happened to mention I needed ideas for a blog post.

My son, all of nine years old, suggested the above title.

Hmmm…I said…not bad. That might work.

After all most people think data modeling booooorrring, right?

But for a few of us, it is kind of fun.

So then I asked him if he had any ideas how we could make it fun.

My son does not actually know how to do any data modeling (yet), but he has looked over my shoulder a few times and knows I draw pictures with boxes and connecting lines and words in the boxes.

With that bit of knowledge, he did come up with a few good ideas that really could make data model review sessions, a bit more fun, and maybe more effective.

Here they are:

Word Search

Put up a large version of a data model on the wall. Give the reviewers a list of words to find on the model diagram (you produce the list from your data dictionary).  Have them go to the diagram to highlight or circle the words one their list.

This will help get everyone familiar with the model and the layout of the diagram.

For more fun – form teams and keep score! Maybe even add a time limit per word.

Silly Sentences

If you don’t know how this works, you start with sentences with blanks in strategic areas. So the sentences may be missing nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. You have someone fill in the blanks out of context – you ask for a noun but they have no idea what the sentence looks like until after you fill in all the blanks. (This game is in my son’s Nat Geo magazine) It can be quite funny.

One of the hardest parts of a logical model is naming the relationships.  Use this game to figure out the right sentences.

Start by writing the relationships with completely silly or even wrong verbs:

Each Customer must be found squatting at one or more Addresses.

Use your creativity to come up with goofy verbs for the relationships. Then get the users to “validate” the sentences.

I am sure they will be more than willing to correct your errors. 😉


You all know how this game works – you get the answer and have to come up with the questions.

This is an interesting way to validate your entity and attribute definitions. Use entity definitions as the answers. Users have to guess the entity name.

For example: What is a customer?

Of course it will be really interesting to see if they can link definitions you got from them with the entity names in the model. You might get some clarifications in the process.

Data Model Haiku

You can do this with definitions or maybe relationship sentences. Trying to put the words in a specific form will make you really think about your understanding of the concepts (and force you to be succinct).

Each customer may

Be contacted by one or

More customer reps

Note for my  friends in the UK: Feel free to do Sonnets in Iambic pentameter.

Data Model Telephone

This is pretty much what happens anyway – you attend a meeting with the customer, they give you requirements, you take notes then try to build a model from those notes. You write out definitions and get them to review those. Chances are good you did not get it quite right.

So for fun, and to make a point about recording details carefully, get your team in a room and start at one end whispering a definition to the first person and have them pass it on. Write down the end result to compare to the definition in the model.

If the result is really funny, tell the customer at the next review meeting.

So what do you think? Can we make data modeling more fun?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have any fun ideas, please share those too!

Game on!


P.S. If you would like some other ideas on how to get better data models, check out my recent Kindle book on best practices for data model design reviews.

Best Practice: How to Create the Best Data Model Ever

A good data model, done right the first time, can save you time and money.

We have all seen the charts on the increasing cost of finding a mistake/bug/error late in a software development cycle.

Would you like to reduce, or even eliminate, your risk of finding one of those errors late in the game?

Of course you would! Who wouldn’t?  Nobody plans to miss a requirement or make a bad design decision (well nobody sane anyway).

No modeler worth their salt wants to leave a model incomplete or incorrect.

So what can you do to minimize the risk?

Well, if you are designing relational database or data warehouse systems, you can do your part by implementing a best practice approach to developing your data models.

What you need is a simple, repeatable process for reviewing your models.

Conceptual. Logical. Physical.

Years ago, a client asked me to help them develop a review process for their new data architecture committee. One that even a non-modeler could follow.

It had to be easy to follow and repeatable.

A checklist of what to look for and what to ask the modeler to make sure they got the best possible model.

It worked like a charm.

I have been using and refining that check list ever since.

It is amazing how many issues I have found over the years using this approach.

And I usually found them in early stages. They were also usually pretty small issues that were easy to fix at that stage.

A missing attribute definition.

A missing business key.

Incorrect cardinality or optionality on a relationship.

Small, but they would have been costly to fix if we had built the database with the original design and started coding the application, then found the mistake.

I imagine that you could probably benefit from using my process and  having this checklist handy to set up your very own data model design review process. Am I right?

So I decided to publish it and make it available to all my loyal readers and followers (even you lurkers out there!). 😉

As of today you can get your very own copy of the process details,  pre-review questions, and the review checklist for both logical and physical models in the convenient Kindle format for a crazy low price.

This is way less than you would pay for me or any other data model consultant to build one for you.

Even better, if you have Amazon Prime you can get it for free via the lending library. So try before you buy (you really do want your own copy to keep, honest).

So head on over to  Amazon and check it out.

Will you do me a favor?

If you like it and think it can help your friends and colleagues at other companies, then please post a review and be sure to tell them about over email, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

BTW – You don’t have to own a Kindle to get my book. You can download a FREE Kindle reader to your PC, MAC, iPhone, or Android device. So don’t worry…just get the book and tell your friends.

Happy Modeling!


P.S., If you have any ideas for other little reports I could provide, leave me a comment in the blog. Thanks!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: