Good definitions – part 2

An earlier post introduced the 2 parts of a good definition and discussed Part 1 – identify the class or set of things to which the business term belongs, and then differentiates that term from all others in the class or set. This post discusses Part 2.

Part 2, which is optional, contains usage guidelines or how to apply the concept being defined.  Sometimes these guidelines are called business rules.  They can include references to time (spring semester, fiscal year), chronology (Thing A happens before Thing B), sequencing, consequence, or any type of information that a steward thinks will aid in understanding a term.


Anticipated Financial Aid: A form of financial aid that has been awarded, but not disbursed (Part 1). This aid acts as a credit on a student billing statement before the beginning of the academic term. (Part 2, sequence).

Current Past Due: A portion of Student Account Balance that is more than 30 days past due. (Part 1) Student Account Holds are placed on any account with a past due balance greater than $25 and more than 30 days past due. (Part 2, consequence).

Country of Residence: The nation state of which a person is legally recognized as a resident for immigration purposes, (Part 1) which may or may not be the same as country of citizenship. Associated permissions, requirements, and documentation will vary by country. Residency may also refer to a tax relationship, which is usually tied to primary residence or domicile. (Part 2, additional information).

What is the magic number of Functional Areas?

The answer – as many as you need!

Staff at iData, the company that provides Data Cookbook, recently published an analysis of the number of Functional Areas that each customer maintains. There are currently about 120 customers.

The median count of functional areas is 8, and the average is 11. The distribution is far from normal – one standard deviation (~9) in either direction covers nearly 90% of clients in the sample. The inter-quartile range runs from 6 to 13.

But almost 20% have more than 15, and at least half a dozen clients have more than 30 functional areas in their Cookbook instance.

For the record, at Rochester we maintain 12 Areas. When we started with Data Cookbook in 2013, we quickly set up about 7 Areas.  In our first 6 months we added the remainder and have stayed steady at 12 every since.  In the context of the iData analysis, we are about average.

The key thing to keep in mind is that a Steward (responsible for the definitions in their area of data expertise) is associated with every Functional Area, and the Steward comes first. If a new Steward comes forward, with expertise in an area of data not represented, a Functional Area would be created for him or her.

CUMSAL technical definitions added to Data Cookbook

Just over 90 technical definitions for the CUMSAL Cognos data mart have been added to Data Cookbook.  This set of technical definitions maps the CUMSAL Cognos data model attributes to corresponding Cookbook terms and definitions.  With this mapping, CUMSAL report users can get trusted explanations for the sometimes cryptic meaning of CUMSAL attributes.

To view this set of technical definitions, select the Browse Definitions section in Data Cookbook and then select CUMSAL from the Data System drop down menu.  This link takes you to the results set within Data Cookbook – NetID required for access.