It is how we deal with those events, of course, that define who we are. Some handle the ebb and flow better than others.
In the field of data professionals we often feel that our entire role is more reactive than proactive. I meet with customers all the time that tell me that they don’t have the time to be proactive in their daily routine, because they are spending all their time fixing the real problems.
And I laugh (on the inside, of course) each time I hear that phrase “We don’t have time for that!” And then the discussion goes something like this:
“Well…um…we’ve been here for an hour, right?”
“Yeah, and my work is piling up.”
“OK, so if we had spent this hour on proactive tasks, how many hours of reactive time would that have likely saved you?”
“OK, better question, if you had this hour over again, and wanted to spend it being proactive, what would you do first?”
“Right, so that’s where we really need to begin. Let’s figure out how to spend that time on the right tasks. I’m willing to bet that you will find that one hour of being proactive is going to save you many hours of traditional reactive tasks. Unless, of course, you enjoy working late, being called during the night, and spending all weekend migrating data through the tubes.”
So that’s what I want you to think about today. If you could spend an hour, or even twenty minutes a day, on proactive tasks which tasks would you do first? And how much time would it save you on the back-end? I bet if you started making a list you would find the tasks you want to do first and also you are likely to find that one hour of time being spent weekly in a proactive way can save you up to three hours of time spent weekly in a reactive mode. That would be 150 hours for the year!
- How many times have you been alerted to the fact that the disk drive containing your database backups is full, and that subsequent backups have failed? Could you take an hour to develop and implement a way to track database backup growth so that you could be alerted before the disaster?
- How many times have you had a user complain that “the system is slow”? Could you take an hour and develop and implement a way to track query response times so that everyone can understand what is normal (or not normal)?
- How many times have you been asked to prove that “nothing has changed” with regards to permissions for a user login? Could you take an hour to develop and implement a way to effectively track and log user login permissions on a regular basis?
Tackling those tasks and the hundreds of others you need to be proactive about may give you back that feeling that you can control the events that make up your day.
It is at that point that I tend to define that fine line between “junior” and “senior” DBA.
The junior folks know how to react. The more senior DBAs know how to be proactive, or at least understand the value in finding the time to be proactive.