There is a common “patchwork” philosophy in IT departments throughout the world that gives the idea that altering, changing, and fixing poorly designed databases is how you correct the problems – as opposed to starting from the ground-up and re-working a system.
While Relational Database Design gets thrown out the window, a terrible side effect of this patchwork idea takes hold inside of most of these organizations. Databases – whether Microsoft Access, SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL – have a tendency to be amazing thieves when poorly designed to begin with.
If you’re faced with a project that’s designed poorly, but could be “patched up” to do what you need to, consider the following:
Making dozens of changes to a poorly designed database in order to “get what you need” out of it is time much better spent invested in fixing the design problems in the first place. Does your organization need hour upon wasted hour of tweaking and hacking apart databases when you could put together an intelligent design, and simply implement some of the same queries, forms, and reports in a new streamlined system that doesn’t need to be constantly changed?
Databases love costing you money. While a member of your department is hacking away at a database, trying to bend it to his will in order to get statistics from it that would normally be achieved simply in a properly designed relational database model, you’re losing time AND money. The salary you’re paying to play with something that needs fixing is money being paid to ignore a problem that’s staring you straight in the face.
Consider this analogy. Let’s say, every morning you drive your car to work, you have to drive over a bed of nails, and your tires explode. So you turn into a garage every morning and get your tires fixed, only to have the same thing happen again when you take another drive to work.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Certainly it would be easier to fix the heart of the problem.
So why do IT departments and organizations everywhere spend crazy amounts of time and money avoiding the actual problem, instead opting to pay more and fix less every time?
If you’re in a business, you’re collecting data for a reason. It’s important, it’s what your business thrives on. Yet an improperly designed database steals from you the very thing that your business needs in order to flourish – accuracy of information.
Improperly designed relational databases end up creating problems when it comes to looking at statistics, extracting data, or calculating anything. Why risk consistently innaccurate data when fixing the root of the problem can alleviate these woes, and turn your database into an ally instead of an enemy?
These are just some of the reasons it’s important for any business to keep databases properly designed, maintained, and used. As soon as there are multiple copies of databases, bad data and patchwork being done, your databases will start stealing from you something far more important than you’ve ever imagined!