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  1. #1
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    Unanswered: how would you demo SSIS projects for business folks?

    So I built this claims processing thing for Obamacare, and it is a rather sophisticated framework of SSIS packages. We have clients, and we are about to seal a deal that will have my thing processing claims across maybe 43 or more states and DC if the government and the clients ever get their house in order. Now the sales guys are coming back to me and asking "How do we demo this for potential clients?" I am not sure what to do. My output is all XML. We do have a reporting piece coming online, but they are just getting started on their development effort, and that piece is being handled by another team, and the sales guys need something sooner rather than later.

    Have you ever demoed an ETL or other backend processing system for non-technical people? What did you do and how did it work out?
    “If one brings so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Earnest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms.

  2. #2
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    How long would it take you to give a high level overview to one of your peers on this very site?

    I've done something like this before and I just leeched from the documentation I wrote.
    I was the only member of the organisation with DTS/SSIS skills and so my documentation was written with two clear sets of wording: layman and technical.

    I screenshot the package steps and labelled each node.
    Each node then had its own section of the document which started with a brief description of what it was doing followed by the details of how it did it.
    If a section had sub-channels (data transformation steps are a prime example) then it had a section nested within.

    To present I basically took all my screenshots with the laymen descriptions and popped them all in a nice slideshow.

    People very quickly got up to speed with what the iconography meant and that most of the steps were iterations on a theme (90% of the steps are nothing but Transact-SQL).



    People love diagrams. Pictures tell 1,000 words and all that. It might be annoying to format your SSIS packages in to "pretty" layouts, but it is worth the effort for this alone.


    Meh.
    George
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  3. #3
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    Not long. It is not all that complicated. We take in data from the health insurance plans regarding enrollments and claims. After some rather vanilla ETL stuff, the data is run through a rules engine for validation. Failures get reported back to the client so they can fix them and resubmit through a web interface being developed or by resubmitting to the monthly etl process. Successes are submitted to the government as XML and the government can accept or reject. The client then gets another crack at making corrections. There are other pieces like reinsurance and risk scoring which spreads money around among the health insurance companies based sickliness of their populations. We leveraged a lot of "New to SQL2012" features including the Project Model in SSIS and the improved extended events, and the whole thing has been designed to spin up new clients in minutes of getting access to hardware and all of the pieces are modular and hardware agnostic. Good thing to, because we have a very big fish on the line.

    Documentation is great, but the target audience is really a sales meeting, so I need something to buzz and pop and look pretty that is not some SQL Agent Jobs spinning and XML files magically appearing. Yeah I do not know. I am probably wishing for something that makes no sense.

    My task is to put together an installer package with a mini version of the whole that can be dropped on a sales engineer's (I hate this term) laptop, but the boss wants some sizzle with the steak.
    “If one brings so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Earnest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms.

  4. #4
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    Flow charts. Flow charts animated using Powerpoint. Flow charts animated using Powerpoint with "whoosh" sounds accompanying things.

    There is no "buzz", "pop" or "sizzle". There is no front-end. There is no UI. There's nothing pretty to look at.*

    I guess you could graph up some statistics about how many applications can be processed an hour? Clutching at straws there though.

    * The only exception here would be if your installer was "pretty" and that it could be run in front of people to illustrate exactly how easy (and quick) the setup is.



    Sales Engineer? Pull the other one.
    Shouldn't the "Sales Engineer" be the one who makes the product presentable?
    George
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  5. #5
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    I am in a holding pattern on this thing because everyone else is slacking, so they have me doing all kinds of odds and ends. Pre-release perf tuning etc...

    This is what I am starting to think about. An extremely graphical Reporting Services report that refreshes every so many seconds. It would monitor the progression through the 40 or so different packages, and because I am using the Project model, I should be able to include task by task details from the SSISDB.
    “If one brings so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Earnest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms.

  6. #6
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    You may not want to make it look easy. Business people (at least around here) tend to think IT is easy enough that anyone can do it, and usually hire just about anyone to do it. Maybe include an impressive list of the rules that each input item is subjected to?

  7. #7
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    That is how I keep getting jobs ;-).

    This place has that figured out structurally. We do have a lot of garden variety developers, but they make sure to have one very competent person on every team.
    “If one brings so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Earnest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms.

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