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Identifying and Naming Entities

Entity names are normally single words, and the name chosen should be one familiar to the users. The entity name can include a qualifier in order to clarify its meaning. However, if different names are currently used to describe a given entity in different areas of the organisation, a new one should be chosen that is original, unique and meaningful to all of the users.

For example, the terms 'signed contract', 'sale' and 'agreement' might be recreated as the entity 'completed'.

Conversely, an organisation may be using a 'catch-all' term to describe what the analyst identifies as being a number of separate entities. For example, the term 'invoice' may be being used to describe three invoice types, each of which is, in fact, processed in a different manner.

In this case, prefixing the entity names with qualifiers is likely to be the best solution. The process of identifying entities is one of the most important steps in developing a data model.

It is common practice for an experienced analyst to adopt an intuitive approach to entity identification, in order to produce a shortlist of potential entities. The viability of each of these potential entities can then be considered using a set of entity identification guidelines. This should result in some of the potential entities being confirmed as entities, whilst others will be rejected.

Next: Activity 9