One of my favorite tasks as a developer is designing databases. The journey begins with high-level descriptions of seemingly simple concepts, but soon segues into meaningful dialogue that reveals the complexity of each individual business. Questions like, “But, what really is a product?” can seem arduous, but they are requisite to capturing the right information that accurately represents a business and its processes.
A good database design, however, should do more than just capture the intricate nature of your business in its current state. It should align with your company’s strategic vision by capturing key indicators of whether or not objectives are being accomplished. You need to promote change, but that will only begin after you begin to measure and track the kind of behaviors that are critical to achieving your organization’s goals.
An Enterprise Value Map (described in the image below) is a useful tool that shows how high-level strategic goals can be broken down into specific indicators of success or failure. For example, let’s say a manufacturing company wants to retain more of its existing customers by improving the time it takes to address defects. Their CRM database backend must reflect this initiative by keeping a record of each reported defect, the individuals responsible for resolving the issue, and timestamps for all actions taken toward its resolution. Once the timestamps are established as tangible indicators of performance, those individuals can be held accountable to produce results that meet the organization’s goal.
The number one rule, if and when you find yourself giving requirements for a database, is to remember to consider your strategic vision, and vice-versa. No strategic planning workshop is complete without answering the question, 'how will we record and measure the change that we want to promote?'Originally published on February 06, 2015