Monday, September 24, 2007

Database Design for Business - Part 3 Working with the designer

Now that you have decided who is writing your database we move onto the database writing phase.
The database designer might initially start work on his own premises and only later in the project will he start working on site. When the writing phase begins make sure that you have a desk and internet connection available for the use of your designer. Remember you want him working not looking for somewhere to plug in. Make sure you have introduced him to all the relevant personnel he will have to deal with and that they know what level of cooperation with him that is required.
When the designer asks for information make sure it is provided promptly and accurately. A proffessional data designer should be extremely trustworthy and safe to entrust access to your data. A database designer who allowed information to escape would not be designing databases for long. A non-disclosure agreement might be applied to business processes to prevent your database designer selling the same system to one of your competitors.

Payment should be made on agreed targets being met. This is where your initial description of what you want done is very important. Most database designers will not embark on a project until an initial deposit is paid typically 20-30%. The designer should have a design path laid out with key completion points and payment schedule inbuilt.

Reporting design is where you will have the biggest input. Remember these reports are why you wanted the database in the first place. Specify the information you want to see before you tell the designer how you want it to look. If it has to fit in with a corporate style make sure the designer has access to the necessary graphics files.

Make sure the designer has all the contact details of the personnel involved in the project. A good practice is to set up an internal blog that everybody involved has access to. This can used by the designer to document the development process also.

I know I have said he and him for the designer, who could in fact be female.

Irish Mortgage Brokers mop up Cork

.. and Kerry,Limerick, Tipperary, and in fact the whole of Ireland. Mortgages brokers in Ireland now supply approximately 70% of mortgages sold in the country.
The number of people re-mortgaging or switching their mortgages to new lenders in Ireland has grown dramatically . These now account for 15.5% of the total number of new mortgages in Ireland. The highest figure of all time.
The mortgage brokers are paid by commision from the lender and do not charge fees to their customers. For anybody considoring taking out a mortgage in Ireland an obvious first stop would be to visit one of these mortgage brokers, many of which are online and provide lots of information and calculators. One of the better mortgage brokers in cork has a very comprehesive selection of downloads.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Database Design for Business - Part 2 Instructing the designer

There are two elements to this first appoint the right designer and second communicate your database design ideas to them.

The database designer should understand your basic business processes and not try to add extra processes you do not do already, unless of course you are introducing new practices. To acheive this they should be prepared to visit you at your premises and look at existing practices and figure out how they will impliment your new system, assuming that they think they can. If they suggest that you need extra hardware or software ask them why they are needed.

If you communicate your design idea effectivly to the designer you can more easily set a fixed price. If your ideas are a bit vague so will the pricing. Write a detailed list of the differant elements that your idea requires. (Customer List - Name, Adress,telephone, e-mail, Accounts ref,fax, delivery addresses, e-mail preferance,credit limit, etc,) Show the calculations that you need to do on the data, and do mock ups of the reports you would like.

The designer should be able to tell you when they can start your project and how long it will take. They should be available to train you and your staff if necessary. There will more then likely be some issues and unforseen circumstances that will need to be patched up when the system goes live. Will the database designer be able to offer remote assistance or onsite help?

Get the designer to show you some other projects they have completed. Try and see more then one designer! Some designers speciallise in differant industry sectors but this is not something that you should give to much weight to, as long as your designer understands your business processes.

Next we will look at the technology choices available in Part 3.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Database Design for Business - Part 1 Getting ready

Define and Refine and then Define again

Ok so you have a problem that you think you can solve by getting a database written.

Well the first step in having your own database is to define the problem/task you want it to do. This requires more then an outline of the problem/task. As databases are just a method of dealing with various bits of information, this means looking at everypiece of information that you will need for your project. Where does the information come from? What calculations need to be done on this information? Where is this information going? Do we need to print anything? Are we publishing to a webserver?
At the early stage of development we need to look at how many users there will be on the system?
How many different transactions will we be recording? How critical the system will be when it is in place? This information will help us to decide which platform to use. By platform I mean the program you or your database designer will use to design your database. The platform or database management system (DBMS) is computer software designed for the purpose of managing databases. Typical examples of DBMSs include Oracle, DB2, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL and FileMaker. DBMSs are typically used by Database designers in the creation of Database systems.

Here are the top 10 things to do if you are considering buying/building your own database.

Be realistic about the number of users, transactions, etc, and about how the workload will grow in the future. There is no point using a huge Rolls Royce engine when a small Honda will do, and equally a small Honda when you really need a big Jet engine.

Keep focused on exactly the immediate job it needs to do. Don't add unnecessary bells and whistles. The most successful databases are the ones that kill those little repetitive jobs that eat up you and your staffs time.

Format the data to a form that can be easily incorporated into your other systems.

Draw a diagram of how the data is collected and input
(Jim in the warehouse enters the incoming delivery details into a form on his computer, the database interrogates the clocking in machine, whatever.)
Continue the diagram to show what happens to this information
(Ann in accounts matches incoming invoices with Jim's delivery notes, The database works out wages based on a table of employees and their pay rates.)
Then show the output of the database
(A report is emailed to the MD to tell him the value of uninvoiced deliveries in the warehouse, the database sends weekly wage figures to the Payroll program for processing.)

Take a long look at the existing input procedures you are using (we are assuming they are successful) What parts of the process can be speeded up? (Is Jim in the warehouse having to type in the same address 30 times a day?) As a general rule ask the person doing the job currently what takes them the most time and invariably they will immediately describe the most boring and repetitive part of the job and is usually the first problem the database should address.

You already know the calculations you make on a daily basis and funny enough a lot of them are boring and repetitive no matter how fancy the mathematics is. So if your database can collect all the figures and variables you need for your calculations why not let it do the calculations for you.

Is the incoming information accurate? Does the database need to enforce any rules on the incoming data?

How many people will be using the system, Where are they using the system from? How secure is my information?

Different levels of access to reports and information.(Does Jim in the warehouse need to know what you are paying for stock?)

Know what benefits you are bringing to your company if the system works as you imagine. (Increases in productivity, lower costs, quicker process, and what that is worth in financial terms.)

If you do these things you are ready to start talking to a database designer in general terms about your project.

I will tackle this question in Part 2 Appointing a designer

Copyright 2007