One of the first things a pilot is taught is to use checklists. Everything from preflight to tie down after your return is covered in aviation checklists. Did you check the thickness of the brake pads? Did you actually look in the fuel tanks to see how much fuel you have (because guages can malfunction, just like everything else)? When you’re 3500 feet above the ground you can’t just pull over and see what’s wrong. (Once – on my second solo flight – had just taken off when there suddely was a loud flapping noise against the side of the plane. With a high level of anxiety I maneuvered through the pattern, got the plane back on the ground, and found I’d left the strap to my seat belt hanging out the door when I closed it, and it was hitting the side of the plane from the prop wash after I took off!)

As a DBA it’s your responsibility to ensure that everything is running properly, especially in your production environments. When things are running smoothly and you have time to think things through it’s easy to make changes without incident. Things aren’t always running smoothly when changes have to made. Sometimes you’re in the middle of a critical project and someone needs a major change. It’s easy to forget little details – things you’d normally never forget – when these requests are made. It’s moments like this when the checklist is really your friend.

We have an application that manages web sites for our trade shows, and it uses a master database for the application, and a database for each individual web site. Over the (almost) four years since we brought this application in house I’ve created hundreds of databases for the sites. Now, there are items on my checklist besides setting up the databases, because I handle those as well, but I don’t know of a business environment where you can focus on “just” the database issues.

___ Create the Datastore Directory
___ Create the Site Database
___ Configure the Global Database
___ Set up the Java Runtime Connections
___ Configure the Web Site
___ Confirm the Web Site is Working

The checklist doesn’t have to be complex (it can be if you’re passing it on to a junior DBA, but it doesn’t have to be.) It’s usually enough that you have the major steps, and some of the minor ones if they get a bit detailed. The important thing is that you have a reference to make certain you don’t miss anything when you need to get something done.


(This blog post was first published September 4, 2007).