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One of the things that most IT shops try to get a handle on is the use of Access databases or Excel spreadsheets masquerading as a database. I did a project for a large bank a couple of years ago and we audited this very thing. It turns out this ONE bank had over 450 individual MS Access databases in use. Worse, several of them were instrumental to various processes!

 

So what’s the problem? Well, let’s start with lack of controls and auditibility…in light of the recent hysteria over Sarbanes/Oxley, this is no small concern. Then what about the quality of the data? I would say that more than 70% of these types of apps import data from some corporate resource parse it into the shape they want it and use the resultant data as the basis for decision making. Do these users *really* understand the subtleties of the data? Do they really get the model? What about change control? I could go on, but you get my point.

 

Unfortunately, when you take the time to talk to these renegade users, it turns out that we are to blame!

 

People just want to get there jobs done. Many times these domain experts have great ideas and go to the IT group for help. More often than not, they are met with either sneers and contempt or false promises. When the solution doesn’t get delivered or doesn’t get delivered correctly, they take matters into their own hands. And before long, you have 450 small databases in the wild.

 

How do we fix it? We have to embrace the needs of the users. If your IT shop can’t deliver an app or tool quickly enough for the users needs, let them do it…but control the tools and control the data. Provide standards for end –user tools and provide documented services that the user can consume in order to get accurate, auditable data. In the end, let go of what doesn’t matter and control what does.

Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 5:43 PM | Back to top


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