About a million years ago, we opened a business banking account with Bank ABC.
At the time, they had two primary types of accounts, personal and business.
So far so good.
Personal accounts had data fields for all the expected pieces of information one might need for a personal account.
The business accounts had all you might need for a business account. Or so they thought. Turns out businesses are owned by people. People have separate information from the business. No big deal, we can have attachments and notes. In the note we put the names and details of the business owners and an attachment of their scanned signature cards.
Then Bank ABC merges with Bank DEF.
Then Bank ABCEDF is acquired by Bank XYZ.
Let’s smush the old data model into the new data model. Great, all done. Nothing to see here.
A few years later during a random account review it is discovered that a particular business account of a million years has no people associated with it, no authorized users. There was an attachment of a scanned image with two illegible signatures on it, but no names with the signatures.
Turns out somewhere among the mergers and acquisitions, notes did not come with the business account information from older accounts that were opened when records were mostly analog and a little bit of digital.
A good bank manager found this, found us, and convinced me she wasn’t a scammer and got us to the bank in person to get our personal information appropriately related to the business information. And then we signed paper copies of signature cards (sigh).
There are a few things to learn here.
Don’t store structured data in an unstructured place. Build the appropriate relational data structure that you need.
Don’t cut corners when moving to a new system. It really doesn’t matter that there were mergers and acquisitions along the way, it was a new system. A simple review of notes on common data tables could have shown there was more data that needed to be dealt with.
At some point this would have become a blocker for access to our own money in our own business account. Hire good people who can do good work and prevent this from happening and correct it when it does.