We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us


I'm working on an article with the title, "Maybe It's Not Your Database, It's You."  The premise is that complaints about an organization's database may be misdirected: the problem is how the system is being managed (aka management problems disguised as technology problems).  Now, it's certainly possible that an organization chose the wrong database to begin with, or has outgrown the system they chose, or the vendor isn't providing good support and keeping the technology up to date.  But it's often the case that the database is perfectly fine but wasn't configured properly, or isn't being used or supported properly, or the change to a new system wasn't managed well and was never accepted.  Here are my thoughts so far.  What am I missing?

© Walt Kelly

  • Did you implement the system properly in the first place? 
  • Do your codes make sense and give you the information you need?
  • Do you have policies and procedures governing the use of the database?
  • Have users been trained on those policies and procedures? 
  • Are there easily understandable reference materials (preferably online, in plain language) to help refresh memories?
  • Is someone in charge of making sure that users actually do what they were trained to do?
  • Do your security settings enforce what users are allowed to do and see?
  • Do volunteers enter data?  If so, does this really work for you?
  • Is anyone in charge of monitoring your database to make sure everything’s running smoothly (that your database takes in accurate data, and that it produces accurate reports)?
  • Has the person managing the database actually been trained on the database?  What about best practices in data management and any applicable laws?
  • Does the person who oversees the database understand the organization’s strategic plans so they can make sure the technology can support them?
  • Does this person play well with others?
  • Is there some sort of “help desk” where someone is readily available to help users when needed? 
  • Is the “help desk” staffed by friendly people with good customer service skills?
  • Have you looked at your business processes to make sure they’re efficient and effective?
  • Have you looked at whether your database can help you automate time-consuming routine tasks?