Q:

I’m familiar with data modeling, but now I’m being asked to reengineer or build new applications running on my databases and data warehouses. What’s the easiest way to take on this new challenge?

A:

Scott Howard’s Answer: I recommend focusing on doing the right thing rather than the easiest way. It appears that you have a clean slate project, that is: forget about what we have, rather explore design and build what we need. Work with the users, discover what you already do well and build on that. Likewise, discover what you do not do well or not at all and focus on that. Always focus on the additional value that modern systems can provide. Don’t just focus on what information is available from and for your operational systems, but what readily available external data exists and how when it’s combined with your own operational sources, provide a value not available today. This has been mentioned many times over the life of this column by all of its experts and in most every recent data warehouse design tome. Read up on that advice, make a plan and do it. That’s the easiest way to tackle your task. I envy you. Few professionals are fortunate as you to get a clean slate.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: If software engineering was easy, everyone would be doing it! There may be "quick and dirty" ways to develop new applications such as using Visual Basic or a similar graphical development tool but is what you really want to do?

I am not sure if there is an easy way. If you want to build new or reengineer existing applications, it requires knowledge (and experience) in software analysis and design. Your local college should offer software engineering classes that you could take. Since we are in the object- oriented (OO) world, I would focus on that kind of training. This is probably not the answer you were looking for, but I feel pretty emphatic about proper analysis and design.

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