While a few of us may be guilty of constructing databases on the run, and then trying to clean up the mess later, the wise ones plan ahead.
What information will you need in the future? What reports are going to be requested? If you're the bean counter, do you need to count all the legumes?
"Data modeling is probably the most labor intensive and time consuming part of the development process. Why bother especially if you are pressed for time? A common response by practitioners who write on the subject is that you should no more build a database without a model than you should build a house without blueprints.
The goal of the data model is to make sure that the all data objects required by the database are completely and accurately represented. Because the data model uses easily understood notations and natural language, it can be reviewed and verified as correct by the end-users.
The data model is also detailed enough to be used by the database developers to use as a "blueprint" for building the physical database. The information contained in the data model will be used to define the relational tables, primary and foreign keys, stored procedures, and triggers. A poorly designed database will require more time in the long-term. Without careful planning you may create a database that omits data required to create critical reports, produces results that are incorrect or inconsistent, and is unable to accommodate changes in the user's requirements."