Evaluate Your Needs and Plan
Your Database Design


You can easily avoid an error both new and experienced database users often make. Don't fail to plan your database design. Before sitting down at your computer's keyboard to create a new database, follow these simple but important

Interview the database users. Ask them to describe the procedures they plan to automate. What normally happens? What exceptions will the database need to accommodate? Find out what the boss wants, but don't forget to get the data entry person's point of view, too.

Assemble samples of forms and reports you will need to print using your database. If you don't have printed examples
to follow, sketch them out on paper. Note any calculations that the software must perform.

Work backward from these forms and reports to develop your table structure. List the table fields, remembering to
break data down into small pieces for greatest flexibility.

Consider your long-term goals. Even if you do not implement them now, you can design your database to make it
easier to add these improvements in the future.

Once you have finished evaluating your database needs, walk through the process you are attempting to automate with your database. Again, review your assumptions with the people who will be using the database or the output it produces.

The evaluation process described above may seem tedious. By slowing down and evaluating your needs in advance, however, you will save yourself time and frustration in the long run.

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