Data Management Background
The basic premise of the Data Management approach to application development is that information is like any other business resource – and should be managed as such. Unfortunately, most businesses do not currently manage information as they manage other resources, whether human, financial, equipment, material, facilities, or others. This explains, in part, why companies continue to suffer so significantly from information problems involving consistency, timeliness, accessibility, security, cost, etc. Basic principles for managing resources of any type are relatively straightforward and generally recognized by almost all businesses. These principles include the following:
- Requirements for the resource must be anticipated, and fulfilled in anticipation of future need. Otherwise, by the time the resource is needed, the opportunity to acquire it will have disappeared.
- The business cannot afford an infinite amount of the resource; therefore, the amount must be optimized. In other words, the company should always have enough–but also minimize excess and redundancy.
- The resource should be shared and leveraged in as many ways as possible, in order to maximize its value while diminishing its overall costs.
- The resource must be carefully managed to ensure that its use in the business is prudent, efficient, effective and secure. It must therefore follow a clearly defined life cycle guided by explicit rules.
Whereas most businesses accept the above principles without question and apply them carefully to other resources, this is seldom the case for information. As a result, many companies find their information resource in relative chaos. Yet, information may actually be the company’s most important resource because it provides the means through which all others are ultimately managed.
As the value of any resource is recognized, relevant policies are formalized for that resource. A policy is a ground rule–a statement of desired organizational behavior under normal circumstances. Its purposes include the following:
- To ensure that specific objectives are achieved.
- To create consistent results.
- To resolve organizational conflicts.
- To avoid confusion and drift in project scope, requirements and goals.
Attention to policies reflects the business’ desire to manage the resource more effectively. For example, few companies would not create a personnel manual to formalize management of its work force, or financial policies to govern the budgeting and expenditure of its money.
Therefore, an important step toward implementing an effective Data Management environment is to create, formalize, disseminate and implement a comprehensive set of policies for managing information as a resource. This will enable the business to appreciate fully the significant potential of a well-managed information resource, and begin to escape the common state of expensive disarray in its systems and with the data used/created by those systems.
Information resources are identified, captured, defined and manipulated through the development of logical data and process models. These models represent the data and process requirements of the business and are independent of any information systems development or production platform. By gathering requirements from the business experts, modeling those requirements and developing data-centric applications, companies can begin to manage the critical information resources at their disposal.
In the final analysis, building data management policies for your organization can also develop applications that are robust, scalable and stable. This approach will enable you to make effective use of your data, turning it into information to give you a competitive advantage and increasing the value of all your resources.