Perhaps it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: long-term success with your database requires good discipline.
When I say discipline, I mean being disciplined about how we collect data, how we manage the data, and how we use the data. Discipline includes things like documented business rules and procedures, data integrity reports, and job descriptions that include data management responsibilities.
My most successful clients are those that have great discipline in these areas. For example, one of the cleanest databases I ever encountered was at the International Association for Dental Research, managed by Denise Streszoff. One of the many reasons the database was so clean is that Denise has incredible discipline when it comes to data integrity reports. She had developed, with her vendor, over two dozen different data integrity reports that she runs on a periodic basis (e.g., weekly or monthly). Using these reports she’s able to ensure that the data she has in her database is as accurate as she can make it. And by being disciplined about running the reports, the database never gets too far out of date.
Discipline is a key to success in any endeavor, and is especially obvious when it comes to managing data. How disciplined are you and your organization?