From Mind Map To Information Model
The mind map does not give us enough detail to proceed with solutions design. Now that we have decided to focus on projects and practices, we proceed to create a structured information model showing:
- the information we want to capture about projects
- the information we want to capture about practices
- the relationships that exist between the practices, projects, and the consulting group.
Designing information about projects
The mind map suggests that we want to capture a name and description for the project, as well as indicating its client, the sector and testimonials.
We represent these specifications in a diagram like this.
We will call the whole thing an information component (the PROJECT information component); the various pieces we will call attributes (e.g. the Sector attribute).
The PROJECT information component is an abstract template, a standard way for defining the various projects that the consulting group has undertaken. It is often useful to add an illustrative instance, like this.
This facilitates useful discussion about the choice and structure of the attributes. Some examples are:
- The business wants the Description to be rich text, possibly containing images, tables, etc. We point out that this will complicate the content creation process as it is harder to create attractive rich content that meets corporate standards; an internal review process will be needed
- We wonder if the Description has a consistent substructure we could exploit. If so, our information component could split Description into elements such as Project Description (text), Benefits Realized (table), Image. The business feels that this might be too difficult to accomplish, and is prepared to manage the risk of a free form rich description through standards, training, and the review process
- An analyst wonders why we don’t just include Testimonials in with the rich text Description. We suggest that testimonials might be displayed separately in a callout with a distinctive style, which is easily accomplished by keeping them separate. There is agreement
The mind map suggests that a practice contains the following information.
This is more specific than the mind map, and again forces us into some considerations:
- We break Services out because they might be given different visual treatment in a callout
- We are not sure what to do with Team. Our thinking when we created the mind map suggested team members, which could be actually be factored out as separate information component. On reflection, we change our mind, given that teams change fairly frequently, and our external clients do not really care, as we have no household names in our teams. We decide to simply use a team photo in a “slice of life” setting
This is a good start. In the next lesson, we complete the information model by adding the relationships that exist between the practices, projects, and the consulting group.