BIT 275: Database Design

Project Definition

In the Definition phase, your team will gather information from your client to create a mission statement and mission objectives. Work with your team to review information from the client and database users, gather samples of their current practice, analyze data needs, and create an initial set of data characteristics.

Organize your Team

Get to know your team members by compiling a contact sheet with information from each member including an email address.

In order to facilitate the coordination of the team effort, each member of the team will act as a team-lead during a different phase of the project. As a group, decide who will act as team-lead during each phase. Choose a different team lead for each phase. For groups of four, your team may assign a co-lead role to two of the members.

Discuss and decide on a process that your team will use to divide up the team tasks and report out to the team on your individual progress.

Meet with your Client

Schedule a meeting with your team’s client for next week to discuss the mission and objectives of the client’s operation. At least two members of your team need to attend the meeting. One team member should facilitate the meeting and one member should take notes at the meeting. Email a synopsis of the notes to the entire team.

Before meeting with the client, develop a set of initial questions and follow-up questions to ask the client. Use the planning resources in the text.

Gather enough information from the client at the meeting and using follow-up email messages to define the project in a Strategic Brief. Confirm via email with your client that the Strategic Brief describes the project adequately.

Also, collect samples of current data gathering and utilization procedures.

Write the Project Definition

Create a Site Mission Statement

The mission statement describes the focus of your project in the broadest terms. It answers the questions:

Determine Mission Objectives:

Create a list of objectives, ranked by priority for your Strategic Brief. Objectives are results; they are specific, attainable and measurable. Some questions to ask the client to help determine the mission objectives are:        

Identify Subjects and Characteristics

Use your mission objectives to describe the pertinent data processes involved in the project and from this develop a list of subjects and characteristics that participate in those processes.

At this stage we’re not worried about making our fields ideal so its fine to have a “Volunteer Name” characteristic even though we know that’s a compound field and should be broken down into “Volunteer First Name” and “Volunteer Last Name”. Similarly don’t worry about validation tables or splitting mutli-valued fields into separate tables.

Client Review

Review the strategic brief with the client via an email exchange to confirm your understandings. Remember that your client doesn’t know relational database terminology so don’t send a list of “tables” and “fields”. Instead send a list of “subjects” and “characteristics”.

Make adjustments as necessary based on the client’s feedback. Repeat this process until both you and the client are satisfied that the project is well-defined.

Final Submissions for Project Definition (due 11/9/2010)

  1. The typed synopsis of notes from the initial client meeting including the questions you asked.
  2. A Strategic Brief which includes
  1. A mission statement
  2. A set of mission objectives
  3. A description of subjects and characteristics.
  1. The email thread indicating the client’s review and confirmation of the strategic brief.
  2. A preliminary set of fields associated with each subject

Example: Giving Tree Project

Mission Statement         

The Giving Tree database will provide the information necessary to control inventory, manage volunteers, and appreciate donors’ contributions.

Mission Objectives        

  1. Help schedule volunteers appropriately
  2. Acknowledge the contributions of donors
  3. Provide continuously updated inventory for use with our website
  4. Monitor the revenue from toy sales
  5. Track sales from special events / fairs / Pike Place Market storefront

Subjects and Characteristics        

  1. Volunteer scheduling – provides volunteer opportunities, schedule information, contact information, and a simple way to sign-up for tasks
  1. Donations and/or materials – monitors information about donors, contributions, how donations are used, and “ask lists” for special fund-raising campaigns.
  1. etc.