Specific training for senior management about the value of databases?
March 23, 2015 6:20 AM   Subscribe

We have a group of practitioners in our company who rely on Excel way too much, both for data that's too large and data that's too complex for it. At the same time we roll out SQL training to the practitioners, we wanted to explain the value and capabilities of database work to senior management so we could set the right tone. Any suggestions for online training, a set of articles or other resources that don't dive into SQL coding, but for which the attendees will still get the right message?
posted by VeniceGlass to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't point you to any specific resources, but I'd certainly mention database normalization as being a compelling value-add in terms of updating data in one place instead of in many places, risking data integrity.

Honestly, read through an introductory chapter of any quality textbook on databases and you'll get many reasons why storing large, complex datasets in databases is The Way To Go.
posted by rachelpapers at 7:06 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am an old person management type who appreciates a good database. The thing that convinced me was the risk of not having centralized data. There was the loss of data risk and the risk of any one employee who managed a spreadsheet of data that was critical to the organization of winning the lottery. If that person suddenly stopped coming to work for whatever reason, we were going to face major problems that could have been mitigated by central data and central backups.

To me, the sell is only a small part the positives. The sell is in emphasizing the organizational risks (risk to manager's jobs) if there is a problem. Secondary is the inefficiencies and ease of use.

To me, a manager's job is simple and can be distilled to two things. Mitigating risks and being creative on ways to move forward. A good central database from which the appropriate people can pull data as needed addresses both.

I would suggest in addition to finding articles or online training that you find some quotes from well known business leaders who support this such as Steve Jobs or any leader of a leading company in your field.
posted by 724A at 7:16 AM on March 23, 2015


Yeah, I mean I think this is really just best done by Excel-is-not-a-database horror stories, of which there is no shortage and there are probably plenty of local instances, accompanied with an explanation of how it all could be avoided.

"Best practices," "data integrity," "continuation planning" all good phrases.
posted by PMdixon at 7:29 AM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


From a practical perspective, I've had very good success pointing out that you can still pull database data into Excel using the Data tab connecting to SQL Server (or really any ODBC), so you can softly migrate people who just have old habits and want to keep making pretty charts in their Excel sheets, while you get a robust database architecture in place. I've had zero success teaching Management staff how to build their own SQL queries, even in reporting tools. They just want a list of info in a sheet, and then they want to do Pivots or Charts on that.
posted by odinsdream at 8:01 AM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seconding odinsdream emphatically. One of the greatest successes of the Salesforce.com platform, IMO, is not just the technical achievement of scale, but that they teach its functionality using an Excel metaphor- everything is in "sheets".
posted by mkultra at 11:53 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


i think rp has a great idea: normalization by example.

if you could take some business related garbage (just a few rows) and put it in 3nf, then run through just a few examples of value changes, that would be useful.

could be a great time to bring up the timeless orc/elf, management/developer battle of synthetic and natural keys, too.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:22 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Ukeful things...   |   Why does a search for () return 0 results? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.