Manual Principles of data management : facilitating information sharing

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The views expressed in this book are of the author s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute or BCS Learning and Development Ltd except where explicitly stated as such. Although every care has been taken by the authors and BCS Learning and Development Ltd in the preparation of the publication, no warranty is given by the authors or BCS Learning and Development Ltd as publisher as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained within it and neither the authors nor BCS Learning and Development Ltd shall be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising by virtue of such information or any instructions or advice contained within this publication or by any of the aforementioned.

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Data analysis is a very useful tool for efficient database design. Too often based on an analysis of current situations, data analysis — in the extreme case — is a great way of encapsulating organisational ineffectiveness in the resultant database!

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Figure 5. Figure 8. Figure Figure A. Keith Gordon was a professional soldier for 38 years, joining the army straight from school at 16 and retiring on his 55th birthday. He is now an independent consultant and lecturer specialising in data management and business analysis. As well as developing and teaching commercial courses he was for a number of years a tutor for the Open University.

The author of this book is a soldier through and through — but he also has a comprehensive understanding of the principles of data management and is a highly skilled professional educator. This rather unusual blend of experience makes this book very special.

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Data management can be seen as a chore best left to people with no imagination, but Keith Gordon taught me that it can be a matter of life and death. We all know that any collective enterprise must have records that are both reasonably accurate and readily accessible. In a commercial operation, failures in data management can lead to bankruptcy. In a public service it can put the lives of thousands of people at risk and waste public money on a grand scale. For a soldier in the heat of battle, any weakness in the availability, quality or timeliness of information can lead to a poor decision that may result in disaster.

Principles of Data Management

It serves as a reminder that a computer application is only as good as the data on which it depends. It is common for the development of computer systems to start from the desired facilities and work backwards to identify the objects involved and so to the data by which these objects are described. One bad result of this approach is that the data resource gets skewed by the design of specific facilities that it is required to support. When the business decides that these facilities have to be changed, the data resource must be modified.

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Does this matter? There is another way. An enterprise can choose to treat its data as a vital corporate asset and take appropriate steps to ensure that it is fit for purpose. To do this it must draw on the body of practical wisdom that has been built up by those large organisations that have already taken this message to heart. The British Army is one such organisation and it was Keith Gordon that made this happen.

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The big issue here is how to ensure that the records on which an enterprise depends remain valid and useful beyond the life of individual systems and facilities. This requires good design resting on sound principles validated through extensive practical experience. We live in a changing world where new demands for information are arising all the time. Whether this is due to new technology, new social problems or the pressures of competition, these new demands cannot be met by creating yet more stove-pipe systems. The goal we should aim at is for all data to be captured in digital form once only, as close as possible to the time and place of the observations, decisions and results that it is required to reflect.

The tricks of the trade through which the best practitioners contrive to bring this about are well documented in this book. Malu Castellanos. Information Technology for Management. Ongoing Research and Development. Ewa Ziemba. Web Management - The complete cornerstone guide to Web Management best practices; concepts, terms and techniques for successfully planning, implementing and managing enterprise IT Web Management technology - Second Edition.

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