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The Data Model Resource Book, Volume 3: Universal Patterns for Data Modeling by Len Silverston, Paul Agnew

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Chapter 2. Setting Up Roles: What Parties Do

Enterprises increasingly wish to view their business from an enterprise-wide perspective. One very important way to help with this goal is to understand the relationships that enterprises have with the people and organizations with which they do business.

A person or an organization may play any number of roles, such as a customer, supplier, worker, employee, contractor, or partner. Enterprises track this personal and organizational information in many different applications across the whole of their businesses. Different applications view the person or organization as a customer, partner, or supplier depending how the person or organization is involved in the business life cycle. Capturing roles within the context of discrete transactions or business processes is very important. For example, how is a person involved in a sales transaction—as the customer, as the salesperson? But, what about the roles that are not declared within these limited bounds? What are the roles that can be declared for a person or organization independent of any specific event, transaction, or business process? What are the roles a person or organization plays within terms of the enterprise as a whole?

For example, we declare a party (person or organization) to be playing the role of "customer." This is one of the ways the enterprise views that party. Salespeople say, "John Smith is a customer of ours." They don't refer to any particular sale. What they are saying ...

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