Need To Build A Database

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The purpose of this article is to clarify databases and data management requirements to ‘non-techy’ business personnel looking for a transaction based software system.

What is a database?

The first step in addressing the “I need a database request” is to clarify each other’s interpretation of this statement. In the IT world, a database is simply a set of interrelated and structured data tables. It’s the place to manipulate and store your data. Rarely this is all a customer is asking for when they request a database. Typically they are looking for transaction based software that not only stores their information but manages the process of getting it in and out too.

What information do I need in my database?

The following checklist is a base to get you thinking about what information you want your database to manage.
Input – Getting the data into the database

  • Will data be manually entered or imported in from other databases, spreadsheets, files, websites etc or a combination of them all?
  • How often will transactions occur?
  • Will multiple users be entering data simultaneously?
  • How many transactions will be entered over an hour, day, week, month etc
  • What is the data validation process?

Processing – Manipulating the data on the way

This stage investigates whether the data to be inputted is in the correct format or in need of further manipulation (eg removing rows, change column orders)

  • How often should this processing occur?
  • Where should the processing occur (eg. At the input stage, on its way to the database or from within the database)
  • Are calculations necessary?
  • Should data be rolled up (eg. Daily data summed together to produce weekly results?)

Storage – The database!

Your IT provider will be able to give you guidance and recommendations on the technical considerations (eg. platform, database growth capacity etc) however they will be looking for your input in the following areas;

  • Retention/Archiving – how long does the data need to be stored for and what happens when it’s no longer required?
  • Is the data being stored anywhere else and if so how do we reference it instead of duplicating the information?
  • Security – who has the ability to access the data, how do we protect it
  • Backups – how often should the data being backed up and to where? What is the business impact if it is unavailable?

Output – Getting data out in the format you need

  • Who needs access to the data and how often do they need it?
  • What format is required? (excel, pdf, printer friendly reports)
  • Should it be delivered and if so how (reports, emails, etc)
  • Can it be picked up and used by any other systems?

Using this information an assessment can then be made of the current needs and future growth plans to ensure the data solution provided can grow alongside your business.


But how do I use my database?

Working with the information in your database will require an interface and whether it’s a web or mobile application or a traditional windows based software tool it’s simply a matter of determining the best tool for you and your business.