Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Just goes to show, that it's always something..."

I'm returning from a week on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. Prior to leaving, I did all the right things, checked the weather report, got a river guide, checked out my equipment, etc. Of course the weather report was wrong (luckily mostly in our favor) and I forgot the river guide, but other than the one unexpected item (black flies) we had the perfect trip.

I returned to the office to find the project tagging with keywords complete and a reality check of the process underway. One cool thing that emerged was a new look at the whole of our project information. We were able to spots some gaps in our current information. We also found that some of our project titles, objectives and abstracts weren't descriptive enough to tag projects meaning that we needed to go back to the original reports to understand what the projects were about. If we had to do this, it easy to assume that our customers would have the same problems.

This new look provided us an opportunity to improve our data. It's important to realize that what we found wasn't because of screw up, it's the challenge of dealing with legacy information. In some cases, information existed before the last coding system. In others, the information was prepared for one purpose and we're trying to use it for another purpose. The biggest challenge is to use this as an opportunity to clean-up our system.

I liken this to the black flies on the river. By swatting them and then throwing them into the river, I got to see trout and next time I'll bring my fishing pole (yes I know this is a stretch ...)


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