Things you know now… Tagged.

My friend Brent Ozar, SQL Server Ninja, passed on a tag which asked “what do you wish you knew when you were starting?”

Here are some of the things that immediately came to mind.

Make a manual backup before doing anything to M2M.

Over the years I have been tempted to make small changes to certain files without first making a backup. Oh, I”ll just fix that problem with the FastForms tables or change the SMS configuration files for Shop Floor Data Collection. Then something blows up and I’ve got a huge mess on my hands.

I can hear you saying, “But what about the tape back up?” I don’t trust back ups, so I always make an additional one before I do anything. The same thing goes for SQL database backups, I always make a manual backup before changing anything. Keep in mind that this may slow your performance temporarily if you do a database backup while users are in the system.

Always estimate high.

When budgeting your time, always estimate high. When developing custom solutions or reports, things rarely work out perfectly. Always do your best to deliver before the agreed deadline. People won’t remember when you were on time, or even early, but will always remember when you are late.

Before starting a new project, check if a solution already exists.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years, I have been working on a complex project only to find out that there is at least a partial solution already written by someone else. The same thing happens with reports. Often you can edit a M2M report, or take the SQL statement out of it, and not have to invent the wheel yourself. I’ll post an article another time regarding how to pull the SQL statements out of M2M reports.

Never announce (or commit) until you’re sure.

Some things simply cannot be accomplished in M2M. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but even simple things can be all but impossible. For example, we have a problem with generating serials from the ASSIGN screen. Each serial takes about 40 seconds to save. I am always researching SQL concepts, and Brent posted an article about index fragmentation. It can decrease performance to a high degree, so I de-fragmented the indexes on my test server. While waiting for that to finish, I told my Manager about it. Well, to make a long story short, it did nothing for performance. I’m glad I tested it and experimented, but probably should not have told anyone until I was sure it would be effective.

Multi-tasking is a myth.

I know people who claim to be great multi-taskers. It’s been my experience however, that multi-tasking is a myth and wastes time in the long run. This is especially true in our type of work because it often requires great concentration. You cannot concentrate on two things at once. When I’m forced to multi-task at work, I actually lose time each time I switch back and forth because I need to review what I’ve done (where in the code I am for example) before I can actually start working again. This prevents what athletes call flow, and makes me less effective.

Since I am the only Made2Manage blog I know about, I will tag my readers to answer this question as well. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

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