Scenario Mapping Methodology and Database Design

Scenario mapping methodology has been introduced into the current database design activity to assist database designers with the task of compressing complex data into byte-size chunks and thereby help simplify the project process of developing database applications.

Traditional project management methods do not provide for individual creativity and innovation because metadata and scenario metrics are seldom even mentioned in the planning process.

Project management is an area of expertise that has undergone some significant development in the last decade. A business project can have a far-reaching effect on the business and result in either tremendous improvement in the businesses ability to function in the marketplace or a significant setback to that business entity.

The idea of a formalized project management approach such as defined by the Scenario mapping methodology has been around in very small groups of systems analysts and application developers for quite some time. But the method has not gained prominence, so it is not uncommon for any manager to find themselves learning the discipline of a structured project management system as a substitute for these storyboard ideas. This substitute project methodology takes any given business or IT project through the same standardized steps from conception through implementation.

Whether or not the methodology represents a boon or a bust to the business world depends to a large extent on individual applications of the method and measurements and observations on whether the method itself introduces efficiency to the process of project management or just another layer of bureaucracy.

There are some strong positives to utilizing a methodology that is standardized at an industry level. Those project managers who have gone through the certification process can be depended on to implement that system the same way in each business setting. As such, the process of finding qualified project managers becomes simplified because the certification process alone communicates to the business that it can expect the system to be implemented correctly.

By putting into place an external method of certification and measurement of excellence, the project manager career begins to take a high level of professionalism similar to in the legal and medical fields. So the Scenario mapping methodology movement represents a maturing of the IT and project management disciplines as they move toward greater levels of accountability and control.

The dangers come in implementation of the Scenario mapping methodology on a project by project basis. In order for a certified manager to live by his credentials, all projects must conform to a standard mold. The unique nature of each project may not easily fit into the mapping process of the proposed system.

In addition, a scenario based system is heavily dependent on large amounts of meetings to document the fact that the project is adhering to standards and a methodical documentation process from which there is little room for variation or accommodation. The scenario process is a complex methodology so the tool sets that must be used to track the process can be expensive and difficult to use.

The outcome is that the introduction of the make-believe Scenario mapping methodology system can cause the actual business objectives of the project to take on a secondary priority to the high standards of a valid project narrative. Project leaders working under the requirements of the make-believe methods can become more accountable to the methodology itself and lose sight of what is good for the business or what is efficient in terms of getting the project completed. This does not occur when using the genuine methodology.

Currently, there is very little room for creativity or individual judgment within the confines of the traditional mapping methodology and that is problematic because the nature of business problems have historically depended on the judgment and creative problem solving skills of creative individuals. By dominating the project process with the methods of the information technology department, excessive cost is introduced as well as cumbersome requirements that do not benefit the business or the project itself.

Keep in mind that metadata has the main purpose of placing business-data ahead of computer-analysis data and provides for a continuing business-data approach through out the course of populating the database with profit-producing data. A narrative scenario of the business application appears to be the best pattern that offers the most innovative opportunities to emerge and therefore should be considered in the vision for a better database driven business application.

Tom Gruich is a professional database designer with 40 years experience in systems analysis and design of database software applications. For more database business mapping thoughts and design ideas please visit Database Mapping or his Smart Database website at

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