It is amazing how much is spoken and written about Customer and Supplier, especially as they do not exist – they are Phantom Entities! Read more at There’s No Such Thing as Customer.
Recently, in a response to a comment on The Pathology of Business & Data Modelling I was addressing this topic once again and thought it would be useful to produce some models that show how Customer and Supplier are in fact Roles played by the entity Party.
Customer and Supplier are actually derivable Roles, that is, their existance can be determined by looking at transactional data within the enterprise and, consequently, do not have to be declared. A Customer is any Party to whom the enterprise has sold products or services. A Supplier is any Party from whom the enterprise has purchased products or services.
Because they are derivable entities, they ought never be declared, as this could cause data inconsistencies. Neither should they ever appear on a Logical Data Model!!
Some roles, such as Guarantor, Referee, Beneficiary, etc. cannot be derived and, consequently, need always be declared.
Knowing these structures will enable data modellers to aid the enterprise identify and manage their true Master Data Entities and avoid trying, and failing, to manage Phantoms.
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