Is Your Database a Hot Mess? Six Common Culprits to Avoid

database cleanup Have you ever found yourself struggling to find a piece of company data you know is there, somewhere? Was it entered into one of your various databases, or is it nested on someone’s hard drive in an Excel spreadsheet created three years ago? The good news is that someone took the time and effort to gather it and store it. The bad news is there is just no easy way to access that vital piece of information unless you can mind meld with the employee who touched it in the first place, because not even they remember what their thought process was at the time. So, what was once a minor issue when you were a mere startup is now a data dilemma that promises to worsen exponentially as your business grows. The good news is that you have lots of data. The bad news is that you may not know exactly what you have or where it is.  Is your database a hot mess?

Here are six common culprits to be on the lookout for:

  1. You’ve let your data management grow organically with your business. Organic business growth is great, but database planning is critical to ensuring every data entry is optimized for accuracy, utility, and accessibility by multiple business functions. Adding ad hoc functions with their own data may serve your immediate needs but is sure to hurt you down the road.
  2. You haven’t considered the bigger organizational picture. To efficiently store and retrieve data, you need to understand what it represents and the mechanisms behind it (how it is acquired, frequency, and how it is to be used). The answers to those questions should drive key database parameter and functionality determinations.
  3. You’ve designed your database for today and not tomorrow. If your business is growing, simply making do with a database that works now can cost you in the long run. Think of that house you moved in five years ago and how quickly that empty space filled up. Data is like that. Designing a database with the additional capacity and capability you are going to need in the next few years will ensure you have the information and tools already in place to effectively scale.
  4. You’ve cut some design corners. There is always urgency in business. Don’t let today’s tyranny of the urgent lure you away from carefully designing a database that builds in at least basic rules of normalization so your data is properly organized, identified, and grouped.
  5. You’ve got the same information stored in multiple places. This happens more often than not, often as a result of ad hoc database management and failure to build in needed operational parameters. Redundant fields and tables increase your database size, decrease the efficiency of your database, and can even result in data corruption.
  6. Your database functionalities are sub-optimized. You may have software capabilities you aren’t using which could make your database challenges much easier to manage. These may be indexing or view capabilities, analysis tools or valuable safeguards you’re not even aware of. When you take the time to understand and optimize your database engine features, you not only simplify software development, you protect the accuracy and accessibility of your data.

If any of our common database culprits apply to your company’s practices, there are common-sense strategies and practices you can put into practice that will yield almost immediate efficiencies in data storage, organization, and retrieval. To find out more, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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