From Cells to Intelligent Life – Business Entities
What are these business entities you speak of? Well, these Business Entities’ are things that describe the key groups of information that a business requires to operate. BE’s are nouns and should be tangibles that exist.
Many businesses have an illusion that they are unique or different to other businesses in their field and hence when asked to describe the inner workings of their business they make up terms and use corporate lingo to talk about their operations. It is up to the analyst to define common best practice terms when modeling the entities of the business – but feel free to use business context aliases in the description to keep the corporate junkies happy.
To help understand what these business entities are – let’s look at a few examples:
- A sales company – Joe’s Car Tires
- A school – Hill High
- A law firm – Just Law
For each example, I will outline a two-sentence description of t
he business and then list the business entities as I see them.
Joes’ Car Tires sell tires they import from various manufacturers. They have 10 stores they own and operate nationwide.
The main business entities of Joe’s Car Tires are the physical things that make up the business at the highest level. In this case:
Customers, Manufactures, Staff, Sales, Tiers (Products), Importers, Stores
Is that it? Well, if you think you can use the business entities above to store all information about the business, use them to describe the business operations and model all processes against that, yes you are close.
Do you get it right all the time? No but take a good stab and go with what you’ve got as you can always add to the list during the modeling process.
Now let’s look at a school. Hill High has 50 staff and 500 students and operators in one location. There are no fees to study at Hill High.
So, what are the business entities? In this case:
Students, Teachers, Subjects, Classes, Rooms, Timetable, Ministry of Education
There are a lot of things that could be added to a list that a school may have but primarily the things above can be used to describe the inner workings of any school.
Finally, with Just Law we can describe the elements of this one-man lawyer business like this:
Client, Case, Lawyer, Fees, Service
The trick to business entity modeling is to keep it simple! These are the foundations of the business and everyone in the business should be able to understand what you model.
Ok we now have some business entities. What is next? And why are these so important?
The next step is relating everything we model to these BE’s. This will help with consistency, verification and will be the core connection between the technical work and the business work.
Let’s take Customer from Joe’s Car Tires: The Customer relates to some of the other entities directly and all the others in-directly.
Customer visits a Store
Customer chooses tires/project
Customer buys/store Sales the Tiers/Product
Describing the relationship between the core customer related BE’s above can help paint the base use stories.
There may be several additional processes in the customer sale scenarios however the relationship between the BE’s have captured the essence of the customer sales process and more importantly describe the customer sales process for all product based sales companies.
Why is it important to relate Joe’s Car Tires to other Sales companies? Well if we can have a consistent model we can start to identify what is common to every sales business and what is unique to that business.