Here's one for ya':

What, exactly, is a "model?" I'm not talking about this or this . I mean, when BAs are discussing "models" ("logical data models," "process models"), what exactly do they mean?

Is it graphical? How many times have you been referred to a "modeling tool" to create a representation of data?

Is it textual? I've never heard of anybody referring to MS Word as a modeling tool…

Here's an example of the impact of my private quandary:

When somebody is required to deliver a "model" of the data related to a project, do they have any basic idea what that should look like if it were placed in a lineup? Would they panic, not knowing what to deliver? Are they afraid, very afraid???

Surely there must be some consensus somewhere… 

I know! I'll look!!

(Sometime later:)

I looked here; I looked there; I looked everywhere. Sigh. No clear, unambiguous consensus.

But I found a couple of clues. First of all is the use of the word "abstract" in so many of the definitions.  I think that the use of the word "abstract" is useful. I've noticed something interesting about data: you can't really "see" it. You can see representations of it (like reports, a GUI displaying it, or even a table listing), but you can't really see it, unless of course you elect to try direct examination of the storage media via a scanning electron microscope, which I don't recommend for BA standard practice. It's way too distracting from the goal.

Which leads me to my second observation:

The use of the word "representation" in some of the definitions.

After thinking about it for a bit, it appeared to me that a great definition for the word "model," at least as used by BAs in the performance of their jobs, could be:

"Any visual representation of an abstract concept that is useful for communicating the realities of the project related to the representation."

This definition would prescribe, then, the use of either graphical, textual or both methods for this purpose. But, note also, the use of the word "communicate." This is at the core of the need. If the delivery method is not right for the audience, then the "model" fails the test of the definition.

No matter how cool the picture, if the target audience doesn't grasp the reality of the subject, then it's worthless. 

No? Feel free to correct me.

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