Garbage In equals Garbage Out

This expression was common in offices around the turn of the millennium. It referred to the notion that even with a  database system running (in) your business, if the wrong data is entered, the result will be erroneous, misleading, corrupted or just plain garbage!

This is where the novice gets into trouble. Even a simple, inexpensive database environment is a tool to be used by a trained individual. The skill set goes beyond reading a user manual. Many years, even decades, of implementation experience is key to making even a small database project successful.

The issue isn’t that one can enter data into a database. It is what data is entered where, why, by whom and when.

What’s needed is the function referred to as Business Analysis. In the IT world this exercise can involve many different tasks. For our purposes, we require a scaled down version. The Analyst needs to understand the Business, pure and simple.

Every piece of data (a datum) that flows through sales, inventory, marketing, manufacturing etc., whatever needs to be recorded, must be understood and evaluated in comparison to others. Also, some will be dynamic and some quite static. Dates and quantities would be dynamic, part #s static. Many will be qualifiers like vendors, shelf #, product sizes or grades, colours and lots of others. Lastly, and worst of all to reconcile, is free-form text like sentences.

Sentences and notes are the enemies of a good database. They might as well be on paper as they cannot be adequately sorted nor reliably searched. If the analyst cannot justify the need for such text, the content must be reduced to lists of qualifiers that the user(s) can select from.

My role is to make sense of the information floating around your business, rate the importance of each, decide how it would be recorded, and build the schema to hold your data. Next we determine queries and reports that will let you take the pulse of the business whenever you need to.

In addition to designing an organized, efficient, safe data repository, we will, together, strive to extract Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will effectively replace the results of a staff meeting, only without all of the backstabbing.


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