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Whence Data Management?

A New Vision for Data Management

The principles and PRACTICES of agile software development can and should be applied to data management. Specifically, your organization should:

  • Accept the situation. Does your organization have a comprehensive strategy for database regression testing? Does it have a viable strategy for resolving existing production data problems? Does it have a consistent and effective approach to supporting data management issues on development projects? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you have some work to do.
  • Prefer collaboration and communication over command and control. The hardest aspect of IT isn't the technology, it's the people. If members of your IT department aren't working together effectively, then it is very unlikely that they'll be effective. You can't command people to work together effectively, but you can adopt ways to streamline communication and enable collaboration.
  • Improve training, education, and mentoring. People who are highly specialized struggle to interact with others who are highly specialized because there is no common ground between them. The agile community has rediscovered that generalizing specialists ( with one or more specialties and a general knowledge of software development and the business domain are much more effective. Smart organizations provide their staff with opportunities to expand their skillsets.
  • Do continuous database regression testing. If data truly is a corporate asset, and if you're implementing mission-critical functionality within the database, you need to adequately test your database. Next month I cover this topic in detail.
  • Adopt evolutionary techniques. Developers work in an evolutionary (iterative and incremental) manner, therefore so must data professionals if they are to be responsive to developers needs. Techniques such as database refactoring, database regression testing, and agile data modeling exist, which enable data professionals to work in an evolutionary manner.
  • Adopt a viable strategy to address production problems. The best way to address legacy database problems is to refactor your schema safely over time.

The Agile Data site,, presents detailed descriptions of agile and evolutionary techniques for data professionals. The material is available, but you need to decide whether to take advantage of it.

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