The first step is Requirements Gathering. During this step, the database designers have to interview the customers (database users) to understand the proposed system, obtain and document the data and functional requirements. The result of this step is a document including the detail requirements provided by the users.
Establishing requirements involves consultation with, and agreement among, all the users as to what persistent data they want to store along with an agreement as to the meaning and interpretation of the data elements. The data administrator plays a key role in this process as they overview the business, legal and ethical issues within the organization that impact on the data requirements.
The data requirements document is used to confirm the understanding of requirements with users. To make sure that it is easily understood, it should not be overly formal or highly encoded. The document should give a concise summary of all users’ requirements – not just a collection of individuals’ requirements – as the intention is to develop a single shared database.
The requirements should not describe how the data is to be processed, but rather what the data items are, what attributes they have, what constraints apply and the relationships that hold between the data items.