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Part 5 of Dan Tasker’s Requirements in Context series moves on from high-level requirements to detailed requirements, discussing the importance of capturing detailed data-specific business needs in a data dictionary (DD).

The article addresses the following questions:

  • What are data-specific business needs?
  • How might these needs be represented in a DD?
  • How does a DD differ from a data or class model?
  • What details should be captured?
  • What is the role of a DD in relation to detailed requirements?

The primary objective of business information systems is to support business processes. These systems do this by utilizing five basic functional capability types – user interfaces, data importing and exporting, reports, and automated functions...  Function-specific business needs are addressed by one or more of these capability types. Data-specific business needs are addressed by the system being able to manage data involved in those functional capabilities.

Business Data DictionaryData-specific business needs are seen to be about records (entities) and fields (attributes and relationships) maintained within the business information system, irrespective of how they are sourced or used, or whether they are physically stored or derived.

A spreadsheet-based DD template is introduced that provides for both records and fields to be documented as rows in a worksheet, with columns representing different characteristics appropriate to different types of entities, attributes and relationships.

Lastly, an example of a single detailed requirement statement is presented. It is intended to represent all of the details captured in the DD - rather than using a number of detail-specific requirement statements to represent those details in textual form.

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Dan Tasker

The author of two books and numerous articles, Dan recently retired after working and consulting in the IT industry for the past 48 years. He spent the first 10 years working as a developer (called ‘programmer’ back then) in the United States and Canada. This was followed by two years teaching computer programming, database design, and data modelling. The remainder of his career was spent as a business analyst, in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He continues to be passionate about quality requirements and helping business analysts produce them. He can be contacted at [email protected]

2021-03-07 The Value of a Business Data Dictionary The Value of a Business Data Dictionary

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