One of the great advantages in my role as a Technical Specialist here at Microsoft is that I get to work with so many great clients. I get to see their environments and how they use them, and the way they work with SQL Server.

I’ve been a data professional myself for many years. Over that time I’ve worked with many database platforms, lots of client applications, and written a lot of code in many industries. For a while I was also a consultant, so I got to see how other shops did things as well. But because I now focus on a “set” base of clients (over 500 professionals in over 150 companies) I get to see them over a longer period of time. Many of them help me understand how they use the product in their projects, and I even attend some DBA regular meetings. I see the way the product succeeds, and I see when it fails.

Something that has really impacted my way of thinking is the level of importance any given shop is able to place on testing and validation. I’ve always been a big proponent of setting up a test system and following a very disciplined regimen to make sure it will work in production for any new projects, and then taking the lessons learned into production as standards.

I know, I know – there’s never enough time to do things right like this. Yet the shops I see that do it have the same level of work that they output as the shops that don’t. They just make the time to do the testing and validation and create a standard that they will follow in production. And what I’ve found (surprise surprise) is that they have fewer production problems.

OK, that might seem obvious – but I’ve actually tracked it and those places that do the testing and best practices really do save stress, time and trouble from that effort. We all think that’s a good idea, but we just “don’t have time”. OK – but from what I’m seeing, you can gain time if you spend a little up front. You may find that you’re actually already spending the same amount of time that you would spend in doing the testing, you’re just doing it later, at night, under the gun.

Food for thought.