Start at the finish line

When planning a new data management projects, results will be better, costs lower and headaches lessened if you consider what your objectives are before you begin. Always start by thinking about what you want to do with your data both now and down the road.

The worst kind of database system is one put together piecemeal as new demands arise. At some point it becomes more of a hindrance that a help. Many become monsters that seem to have a life of their own.

Before you design your databases, tables and user interfaces and decide on purchases, consider all the kinds of data you want to track and the best and most resourceful way of doing so. But to do this you need to gather some information first.

Talk to the end users who will utilize your data. Find out what they need and how they will be using it. Just as important, determine what they would like to do in the future and what has frustrated them most about data in the past.

Also talk to those who will be entering information and the techs who will be working directly with the database system. Find out what will make them more efficient and what has previously held them back.

Finally talk to the vendors who will be processing your data and supplying equipment and third-party lists. Ask them what you can do to help them achieve the best results for you and reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

All of this will affect what tables you design, what fields they will contain, what relationships there will be between them and how end-users will access the information. It will also affect what equipment and lists you acquire, when you buy them and who you hire to make it all work.

Your new data management project should not be planned until after gathering the insight needed to establish what the end results should be. Once you have seen the view from the finish line, you will be much better equipped to create a database system that will get you where you want to be days, months and years from now.

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