The impact of database systems on organisations : a survey with special reference to the evolution of the database administration function
Implementation of the database concept has organisational implications, the most widely recognised being the emergence of the specialist function of data or database administration (DBA) 'usually in data processing departments. This research study is an investigation of U.K. database projects, undertaken to obtain a view of the managerial issues and organisational consequences which arise in practice. The findings are based on the completion of a simple postal Questionnaire by 212 organisations with database projects and in-depth interviews in 21 of these organisations with the staff member bearing overall responsibility for the development. The surveys were conducted in 1976-1981. The study employs qualitative methods to explore the inter-dependencies between organisations' objectives for embarking on a database project, features of the project environment, approaches to staffing including characteristics of the DBA function and the nature of the problems faced. The major finding is that organisations experience more serious 'political ~ problems than technical ones. The predominant type of political problem is not resistance to data sharing, but rather related to the emergence of a DBA function-dissatisfaction over organisational placemen.t and the working relationship with data processing functions such as systems development. Moreover these organisational problems occur from the earliest phase of database projects - the feasibility stage. The study concludes that with management backing, analysis and design skills and control over database usage, the DBA function has been able to acquire technical and political weight in organisations in a relatively short period of time. The current data processing environment however contains unique opportunities for the function - in the areas of systems planning, systems development and the administration of shared data - which suggests that the notion of the DBA as the organisation's overall data resource manager is still a viable one.