Who is in control?

Who is in control?

Speaking with a client once about their database project, the client said something I found rather profound: "I want to feel like I control the database, not that the database is controlling me."

There's a lot going on in that statement, and there are a lot of elements that affect whether or not we feel "in control." I'll hear my clients say "the system won't allow us to do what we want to do." That can be true, but just as often, the loss of control stems from issues that, ironically, are under the control of the client.

Here are some of them:

  1. Do you have enough training to know how to use the system effectively? Not knowing how to use the system leads to a feeling of no control.
  2. Are your business rules clear and simple? The more difficult or complex your rules are (and the more exceptions you allow), the less "in control" you'll feel because a situation could result in multiple processes and outcomes.
  3. Are you doing everything you can to manage key data in a single system (i.e., no spreadsheets) and/or integrating other data management systems to the primary system? A big factor feeding a sense of loss of control is having data "everywhere." By limiting the number of shadow databases and integrating third-party systems, you'll improve your control.

These are just three examples. I'm sure there are more. Every system will have limitations that require us to do workarounds or use manual processes. But we actually have a lot more control over our systems if we choose to exert that control.

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