Running for the PASS Board of Directors #PASSelections

Someday_20564This year I decided to take “someday” to heart and do something that has been on my mind for awhile – submit my application to run for the PASS Board. Going through the process so far has been a humbling experience; one that I’ve learned a lot from. I’m excited to say that my application was accepted and with that this is my formal announcement and the beginning of my campaign for election.

You may ask who is Chris Yates and why is he running? By the end of this post, my goal is to answer that question for you. I am a by product of what PASS can do for you as a data professional. There are so many stories that people have shared who have had similar experiences such as mine. My first time I heard of PASS was in 2011; it is then I was afforded the opportunity to attend my first PASS Summit – information overload ensued! Unknown to me at the time it was the foundation being laid for the journey to arrive at this day.

The Question – Who Is Chris Yates?

Well, that’s easy enough. I’m a 17-year vet of SQL server who views his job as, well not a job. I work for a stellar company in Republic Bank located in Louisville, KY. It is there where my first break with PASS was given to me. I help John Morehouse run the local Louisville SQL and Power BI user group along with helping co-organize the local SQL Saturday event here with Malathi Mahadevan, John Morehouse, and many volunteers. I enjoy helping others succeed and leadership is a strong passion of mine to which I’ve dedicated time to leading a Center of Excellence initiative around leadership for our IT folk at the shop.

You can read plenty more over on my bio page on PASS’s web site located here.

You can view candidates rankings here

The Why?

So this is the meat of this post – the why? Chris, why now. Listen, earlier I mentioned that I’m a by product of what PASS can do for someone and their career. I’ve been blessed and fortunate in my career and more so over the past six years since PASS and I got to know each other. I want others to experience that same success and want to continue to help lead PASS to many more successful years.

PASS is the people, it is the networking at events from big to small, it is staying ahead of the curve that will provide and give our members the edge in their data professional careers. If you’ve been around me long enough then you’ve heard me say over and over again that if we just reach one it’s worth it; I truly believe that. For me it was a guy by the name of Chris Shaw who decided to take a chance on me and become my very first mentor after that 2011 PASS Summit – that is PASS. It is the one off conversations you have at events, email, phone calls in helping each other to learn – that is PASS.

There are plenty of Chris Yates’ out there who are still looking for something and don’t know about PASS. It’s time to step up to the plate and pay it forward like so many before me.

So What Do You Bring to the Table?

I’m not perfect; never will claim to be. If you come here looking for that then it is time to move on. Heck, I’m not even going to make promises that I won’t be able to keep. What I can tell you is this; each candidate running for this board is more than qualified. I’d even go as far as to say I would support all of them if I could. I can tell you that I have a passion for seeing this community succeed, and seeing PASS succeed. I will attack it like I do everything else and give it 110%; at the end of the day, there will be nothing left on the table and nothing left in the tank. Along with the passion and effort; I will tap into my previous board experiences along with being cognizant of my grass roots mentality. I truly believe that we can make an impact anywhere at anytime. Doesn’t have to be at an event; nor does it have to be on a call. Each one of us can impact someone’s life both as a data professional and on a personal level. This will be one epic ride and I ask that you take that journey with me.

Summary

There will be no “what if’s” nor will there be no looking for that someday. That someday came knocking on the door and I’m ready to answer that call and step through it hoping to make a difference for all you and our community. Whatever the outcome may be when this is all said and done; know one thing. The people make up PASS and without you (us) we couldn’t do what we set out to do on a daily basis – help each other to connect, share, and learn. If elected; I’ll give you all I got.

Now whether you vote for me or one of the other candidates I implore you to go vote; what you are doing is helping shape the future of the PASS organization.

To all the other candidates running; it’s truly an honor to share this stage with you. Thank you for laying it out on the line and accepting the call.

My name is Chris Yates and I’m running for the PASS BoD – for more information please go and visit here

SQL Saturday Louisville Re-Cap

IMG_20170804_064418And like the wind another SQL Saturday Louisville has come and gone. This past weekend seemed to be a huge success, but it didn’t come with some take-away’s and that is okay. I think every time we put on an event like this we are always looking for ways to make things better the next year. So, enough yapping. What are some of the highlights?

VENDORS

I’m privileged to work along side one of the other co-organizers in John Morehouse (b|t) when it comes to vendors. We were very thankful this year to have the following sponsors on board with us:

It was awesome to see each and every one of these vendors at the event. Most of them have been prior years and the attendees seem to enjoy speaking to them about their products. We truly appreciate the support they have shown us over the years and look forward to many more events ahead with them.

IMG_20170804_163609

SPEAKERS

Once again we had a very talented pool of speakers that came in town. I won’t take the time list all of them out here, but do go over to the SQL Saturday Louisville website if you are interested. As a speaker, it always amazes me that they come from all over to these events to give their time and hone their craft. If you ever attend one of these events I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Say thank you – believe me, it goes a long way.
  • Give serious session feedback; we look for ways we can make our presentations better.

A huge thank you to all the speakers that came out to our event; we had some great times together and look forward to seeing each of you somewhere down the line. I think everyone did a phenomenal job in their sessions and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from attendees; even after the event.

PRE CONS

This year we had Grant Fritchey (b|t) and Josh Luedeman (t) in the house. Both had packed sessions, I know Grant’s sold out and Josh wasn’t very far off from the numbers I was looking at. A full day of training from a couple of the best in our SQL community made for some great times. Observing and listening to attendees during the breaks again, nothing but positive things. Huge thank you to both of them for taking the time to spend a day with us before the event to share their knowledge with the attendees.

SQL SATURDAY CREW

I can’t say enough about the volunteers that help out with this event. It is no easy task to put one of these things on and the countless hours leading up to the event are many. The “behind the scenes” action is huge. A few things that stand out to me are the character, selfless acts, time given, and pride everyone takes in trying to make this the best event we’ve ever had each year. Doesn’t mean times are always easy; have a cohesive unit with single sight focus to knock out tasks and obstacles as they arise are pretty awesome. In any sense; can’t be more proud to serve along side these individuals.

This year we lost one of our very own SQL crew members. Dave Ingram passed this year. He was one of the earlier on volunteers that gave time to help make the event what it is today. In the three years as co-organizer, I knew him for 2 of those. It was evident his passion was helping the local community base here in Louisville. I was honored to be able to say a few words at the end of the day. It was touching to have the opportunity to meet his daughter, whom we did not know would be there, we were able to take a moment and recognize her and her dad with a round of applause. It’s because of men and woman like this who have forged the way for others like me to pay it forward. Thank you, Dave!

Dave

RIP Dave Ingram. SQL Saturday Louisville volunteer(7 years), SQL Cruise and PASS Summit Alumni. We miss you.

 

NEW SPEAKERS

IMG_20170805_153122It was awesome to see first time SQL Saturday speaker Kat Edrington (t) presenting a session for our attendees this year. This is what it is about for us. We need to continue to cultivate and bring in new leaders of tomorrow. Hats off to Kat on an excellent job well done!!

 

ATTENDEES

Thankful for the many conversations with the attendees that were had. From the questions regarding products they know that I am associated with to conversations on local tech news, to asking where things are at the venue. We at SQL Saturday Louisville strive to make it the best experience we possibly can; doesn’t mean we always get it right – but we will go down swinging trying. Thankful for the all the conversations that I was able to have with the everyone and look forward to much more.

At the end of the day, we had about half of the attendees who raised their hands stating it was their first SQL Saturday.

MARKS FEED STORE

Okay, so if you are from around here then you know about Mark’s Feed Store. The barbecue they have is simply amazing and they were are caterers for this event. Once again they were spot on and provided some great food for all of us at the venue. If you are ever in town go check them out.

TRUE PROFESSIONALS

As I said before there will always be something that comes up at an event. This time around we had a sound system issue in one of the rooms. Rie Irish (b|t) handled things without any issue and we took a field trip to a new room. These types of issues are things that bug the heck out of us hosting, but at times they are out of our hands. Appreciate the flexibility by Rie along with the attendees for being patient; putting a speaker behind in their session is not what we want to do here people.

As I am walking down the hall checking on things I hear a huge humming noise. As I enter the room I see Lori Edwards (b|t) in her session and Andy Mallon (b|t) providing assistance to the problem. After the humming subsided the bulb in the projector decided it was time for it to go. Once again we found ourselves taking a field trip across the hall. Once again, hats off to the ability to adjust and the attendees were very accepting.

Why do I bring these up you ask? Few reasons, but mainly that no matter how much you plan and get things orchestrated issues will arise. It’s important to address as quickly and politely as possible and move on. BTW if you aren’t following the people above in this section please do so…stellar data professionals.

THE WHY?

So at the event, I was asked why do you do this? Why do you help? Why do you speak? I keep saying the same thing but it holds true. In 2011 when I attended my first PASS Summit it changed my life and career.You don’t have to wait until you can go to Seattle Washington though; you can attend these local events all over the globe to learn, network, and test the waters. I know there are other Chris Yates’ out there who, like me, was wanting to get plugged in but didn’t know how. Wanting to make a difference locally, but yes also globally I will always try to be me and help others along the way. Appreciate, encourage and value everyone ~ we got this.

THAT’S A WRAP

Another Saturday has come and gone. I hope everyone from the speakers to the attendees had a great time. Next year will be our 10th year which is a special milestone. Look forward to what the journey holds and hope to see many of you there.

SQL Summer Vacation–SentryOne

sqlvacation2017We are having an extra Louisville SQL Server and Power BI User Group meeting this month due to the SQL Summer Vacation coming into town. SentryOne’s Kevin Kline (B|T) will be rolling into town for a fun filled 2-hour event on Wednesday the 25th. This is a fun event that Kevin and family travel around for every year, and for our SQL community is a great time to sit in multiple sessions learning from a Microsoft SQL Server MVP.

Seats are filling up fast and should have a packed house over at Homecare Homebase whose gracefully opened their doors to host this event. John Morehouse (B|T) and I will both be in attendance and as PAC Ambassadors for SentryOne we would love to talk to you and answer any questions that you may have of us.

Look forward to seeing you all there; going to be a great and fun time. Head on over to the user group site here and check it out available seating.

PAC Community Ambassador – SQL Sentry

pac-logoLast week Aaron Bertrand (b|t) published a post regarding five new PAC Community Ambassadors for SentryOne. I am privileged and honored to be a part of this journey with some stellar data professionals:

  • Andy Mallon (b|t)
  • John Morehouse (b|t)
  • Derik Hammer (b|t)
  • Mike Walsh (b|t)

This venture is a new community program that SentryOne is starting this summer which allows us more avenues to get out into the community, stay connected, and continue to be involved in the programs that SentryOne has to offer.

Knowing each of the other four individuals I can without a doubt say that the mindset is focused on helping others. How do I know this you may ask? Because each of these data professionals has helped me over the years, and I know their drive and motivations to help others succeed.

Thanks SentryOne for the honor to continue to serve others and look forward to meeting, even more, faces as we travel around, collaborate, and impact the community!

T-SQL Tuesday #92, Lessons Learned The Hard Way

TSQL2SDAY-150x150Wow, hard for me to believe it has been a little bit since the last T-SQL Tuesday block party. This month Raul Gonzalez (b|t) has chosen the topic of what lessons one has learned the hard way. Before we get into the story, however, let’s take a look at who, what, when, and why of T-SQL Tuesday.

What Is T-SQL Tuesday?

T-SQL Tuesday was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) and is a monthly blog party. It occurs on the second Tuesday of each month; where a designated host picks a topic and fellow community bloggers publish a piece. It has been a very useful tool in my opinion and I’m looking forward to doing many more of these. It has been one avenue for others to share their experiences while learning something new along the way.

If you are interested in hosting a T-SQL Tuesday on your blog then reach out to Adam.

Lessons Learned The Hard Way

A lot has transpired over a sixteen-year career thus far. Many lessons have been learned along the way some were more difficult than others. I think it is important to note that not all lessons learned by a data professional have to be of a technical nature as well. Let me see if I can split some up technical vs. non-technical that I’ve learned over the years.

Technical
  • Unit testing – who knew that this would be so important right? As a developer starting out and then becoming a DBA I have an appreciation for making sure things test out as they should; rigorous testing. Earlier in my career, I thought that’s what we have QA for, right?
  • Backups – yeah I’ve been burned before early on regarding backups and not having them in place as they should have been. You want a dose of reality real fast? That’s a good way to start.
  • Blinders On – become so focused that you only take into account a certain area of the picture when in essence what is being changed can affect a multitude of things.
  • Knowing vs. Doing – putting comments in code such as “this is probably not the best way to things” is not the attitude to have when fixing the problem – been there done that.
Non-Technical
  • Listening/Heeding Advice – this is key and something I did not learn until later on in my career. It’s not a skill set that I came out of the gate with, having a mentality that you are always right is not the best approach to take.
  • SME (Subject Matter Expert) – I enjoy helping people; it’s part of who I am. This is both a good and bad trait to have at times. If you are not careful you can find yourself overextending into areas where you think you know something but you don’t. Over the past several years I’ve learned that it’s okay to help people even if it is pointing them in the right direction to someone else. But be as sure as I’m typing this, I’ll always be willing to help and will never apologize for that.
  • Conflict Management – over the years I’ve seen many data professionals and worked with various people. All of these experiences have equipped me over time to become a better professional in dealing with conflict which is never easy. A lot of lessons learned along the way on this one.
Failure

I want to bring this topic up in a section all by itself. Having a sports background for most of my life, and then morphing into an avid runner I’ve had “failure is not an option” instilled within me since a very early age. This saying is okay, but in the same token, one cannot be afraid of failure. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned both professionally and non-professionally have come of a result of something I’ve tried and failed out. The key is not staying knocked down, but look at it in a light of if you aren’t trying then you aren’t failing and pushing the envelope.

In Summary

This is a great topic this month. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of your journey and past failures or lessons learned. These are the things that mold and shape us into being the people are to become in the future. May we continue to push the envelope both in technology and beyond; impacting and coaching others along the way. Always remember you started somewhere; remember how that felt? Pay it forward.

Built My Presentation, Now What?

IMG_20161025_092017_01Over the course of several years, I have given many technical and non-technical presentations. It is fun for me to put a new slide deck together, but it also requires a lot of hard work and can be time-consuming. I’ve had a few mistakes, to say the least, over the years where that one typo slips through or something doesn’t go according to plan ~ guess what? It happens.

I compare articulating a presentation to similar fashion in testing something. Yeah, you go over it again and again just like you would test a backup process or verify indexes are actually working. For me the same concept applies; I can’t remember who in the SQL Community always mentions having a checklist handy. I know I’ve read that somewhere before but cobwebs are thick right now so, please, forgive me if I don’t remember. Through the years, I’ve managed to build my own checklist regarding presentations. It is the nuts and bolts of what works for me; it doesn’t necessarily mean it, in turn, will work for you.

Given light of some past conversations I’ve had, I figured I’d share it with you all and maybe someone out there will benefit from it.

Presentation Checklist (a.k.a. Project Double Check Yourself)

What is the purpose – fully understand the purpose of the presentation. By that I mean, what outcome are you seeking?

  • To inform
  • To convince
  • To generate insight and discussion
  • To drive action

Know your audience

  • Do you know who my audience is? Have I provided adequate context to make it easier for them to understand?
  • Are there any personal motivations that you need be aware of?
  • Is the audience familiar with the topic? Have you included adequate detail and background information?
  • Is the presentation tailored to fit the audiences communication style?

Know the message

  • If applicable, do you know the problem or issue you are trying to address?
  • Do you have three to five key teaching points you want to deliver? If so, have you tied those teaching points logically and clearly to the original problem?
  • Have you clearly linked your teaching points to key data or trends along with explaining how the analysis supports, confirms, or denies beliefs about the problem and/or possible solutions?
  • Have you limited the data to what matters most?
  • Have you clearly established relevance? (why would your audience care? Have you clearly highlighted how this aligns with the target audience?)
  • Have you clearly established urgency (why would the audience act now; why is it critical?)

Structure

  • Is the presentation clearly marked with markers and sign posts? Is it easy to follow?
  • Is there an agenda that clearly identifies the different elements and how it fits together? Key point up front?
  • Are there additional details about internal or external sources that were consulted for the included information? Give credit where credit is due

Narrative

  • Does the presentation include insights that will be most influential to the audience? Is the scripting memorable and powerful?
  • Does the presentation identify key assumptions?
  • Does the presentation articulate immediate actions that you believe the audience should take?

Graphics

  • Do you know the purpose of each graphic? Is it tied to a teaching point in the message?
  • Do the graphics present information in a logical, visually appealing manner? Are there other ways of interpreting the graphic other than your intention?
  • Is the page balanced?

Formatting

  • Does the presentation have a standardized look and feel (same headings, colors, fonts)?
  • Are page elements consistent (background, title, body text)?
  • Are colors used judiciously (to emphasize, highlight, and organize)

Conclusion

Checklists; they are everywhere. They don’t necessarily have to be for technical related activities; heck we use checklists for grocery items. They are a part of our daily lives; so when you get that presentation built and you are ready to give it at your shop, on the job, a conference or a client take a few minutes and review a checklist. Make sure you have your house in order and that everything makes sense.

Remember, you get out what you put into something. Continue to work hard and hone in on your speaking and presentation talents that lie within. Like I said, these are some of the things that have helped me over the years; doesn’t mean they are for everyone. The flip side to that, you may have some of your own to share. I encourage you to do so.

 

QA, Utility Databases, and Job Executions

thinking-outside-the-box1Sometimes we, as data professionals, have to think outside the box. I know, crazy idea right? Each shop and situation are different; there will always be several different ways in most cases that you can arrive at a solid solution.

 

This post has a few intentions behind it:

  • It is not a “take this solution; it’s the only way”.
  • Generate some thought and additional methods to reach a goal.
  • This is not intended for a production environment.

Good, now that we have those few things out-of-the-way let’s get to the meat of the topic. A situation arises where you want to give a bit more control to teams to execute jobs without giving full access to the SQL agent. In that case a good utility database may come in handy.

Example of an issue: A QA team is in need of kicking jobs off to test in a specific environment. Keeping in mind that each shop can be different this also means that security levels at varying shops will be different. There are a few choices that may come to mind with this issue:

  • Fire off an email to the DBA team and wait for them to kick job off.
  • Fire off an email to someone with access and wait for them to kick the job off.
  • Wait for the predefined schedule on the job agent and let it kick the job off.

Another method would be to utilize a utility database. You can give it whatever name meets your criteria in this case we will just call it TestingJobs. Let’s look at the overall picture below and how this all fits together:

Things you’ll need

  • UtilityDatabase
  • Two Stored Procedures
  • Table
  • Agent Job

Step1: Create the TestingJobs database (I won’t go into specifics here on proper set up; assume this is already created).

Step2: Create a table called ControlJobs inside the TestingJobs database

USE [TestingJobs]
GO

SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO

SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO

SET ANSI_PADDING ON
GO

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[ControlJobs](
[JobControlID] [INT] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL,
[JobName] [VARCHAR](500) NOT NULL,
[RunStatus] [BIT] NOT NULL DEFAULT ((0)),
[LastRanBy] [VARCHAR](50) NOT NULL,
[LastRanByApp] [VARCHAR](150) NULL,
[Date_Modified] [DATETIME] NOT NULL DEFAULT (GETDATE()),
[Active] [BIT] NOT NULL DEFAULT ((1))
) ON [PRIMARY]

GO

SET ANSI_PADDING OFF
GO

Step3: Store procedure creation for table insertion (note the parameter @JobName)

USE [TestingJobs]
GO

SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO

ALTER PROCEDURE [dbo].[test_StartJobs] ( @JobName VARCHAR(100) )
AS
BEGIN

        /************************************************************************
This script will insert the record needed to kick off agent jobs.

        ************************************************************************/

INSERT  INTO [TestingJobs].[dbo].[ControlJobs]
( [JobName] ,
[RunStatus] ,
[LastRanBy] ,
[LastRanByApp] ,
[Date_Modified] ,
[Active]
)
VALUES  ( @JobName ,
1 ,
” ,
” ,
GETDATE() ,
1
);

END;

Step4: Set up stored procedure that will run the pending jobs.

USE [TestingJobs]

GO

SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
ALTER PROCEDURE
[dbo].[RunPendingJobs]
AS
SET NOCOUNT ON;

    DECLARE @JobName VARCHAR(500) ,
@JobStatus INT ,
@RC INT;

DECLARE cur_RunJobs CURSOR
FOR
        SELECT  JobName
FROM    Ddbo.ControlJobs
WHERE   RunStatus = 1
ORDER BY JobName;

OPEN cur_RunJobs;

FETCH NEXT FROM cur_RunJobs
INTO @JobName;

WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS = 0
BEGIN
PRINT ‘Checking to see if job is currently running. ‘;

EXEC @RC = dbo.GetCurrentRunStatus @job_name = @JobName;

IF @RC = 0
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_start_job @JobName;
ELSE
PRINT
@JobName + ‘ is currently running.’;

UPDATE  ControlJobs
SET     RunStatus = 0 ,
Date_Modified = GETDATE()
WHERE   JobName = @JobName;

FETCH NEXT FROM cur_RunJobs INTO @JobName;

END;

CLOSE cur_RunJobs;
DEALLOCATE cur_RunJobs;

Step5: Set up stored procedure to check if job is already running

USE [TestingJobs];
GO

SET ANSI_NULLS ON;
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON;
GO
ALTER PROCEDURE
[dbo].[GetCurrentRunStatus] ( @job_name sysname )
AS
SET NOCOUNT ON;

    /* Is the execution status for the jobs.
Value Description
0 Returns only those jobs that are not idle or suspended.
1 Executing.
2 Waiting for thread.
3 Between retries.
4 Idle.
5 Suspended.
7 Performing completion actions  */

DECLARE @job_id UNIQUEIDENTIFIER ,
@is_sysadmin INT ,
@job_owner sysname ,
@Status INT;

SELECT  @job_id = job_id
FROM    msdb..sysjobs_view
WHERE   [name] = @job_name;
SELECT  @is_sysadmin = ISNULL(IS_SRVROLEMEMBER(N’sysadmin’), 0);
SELECT  @job_owner = SUSER_SNAME();

CREATE TABLE #xp_results
(
job_id UNIQUEIDENTIFIER NOT NULL ,
last_run_date INT NOT NULL ,
last_run_time INT NOT NULL ,
next_run_date INT NOT NULL ,
next_run_time INT NOT NULL ,
next_run_schedule_id INT NOT NULL ,
requested_to_run INT NOT NULL , — BOOL
request_source INT NOT NULL ,
request_source_id sysname COLLATE DATABASE_DEFAULT
NULL ,
running INT NOT NULL , — BOOL
current_step INT NOT NULL ,
current_retry_attempt INT NOT NULL ,
job_state INT NOT NULL
);
INSERT  INTO #xp_results
EXECUTE master.dbo.xp_sqlagent_enum_jobs @is_sysadmin, @job_owner,
@job_id;
SELECT  @Status = running
FROM    #xp_results;
RETURN @Status;

DROP TABLE #xp_results;

SET NOCOUNT OFF;

Step6: Job Creation

Create a SQL agent job that will call the RunPendingJobs in the database. You can set this schedule to three minutes for this test.

The Benefit

Now think of a QA team member sitting at their desk running multiple tasks. This does take some coordinated effort in getting the job names but now that the basics are set up the team member could run the execute command for the test_StartJobs which will place the necessary information into the control jobs table. Of course the proper security would need to be set up in order for the user to be added (think AD groups). By utilizing the above method the team can suffice on it’s own in a non prod environment streamlining some of the inefficiencies that have plagued the groups in the past.

Summary

A few things to note here:

  • Don’t ever take code off the internet without testing it. This is just a thought-provoking post and there are some things in this post that are dependent upon one to set up and test.
  • I realize there are multiple ways to accomplish this. This is just an avenue to explore and test with some thinking outside the box.
  • Don’t limit yourself to “I can’t” or “This will not fly at my shop”; challenge yourself to become innovative and think of ways to tackle problems.

Can a Data Professional Be Organized?

Organization“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”  While this quote is true it is often times too late to act on an opportunity therefore it is missed. If you are a leader at your respective shop it can then be conceived that you are somewhat out of control.

Becoming a bit more organized in your day will allow you to have priorities that are clear in your mind and can help you orchestrate complex events with a masterful touch. You can transition smoothly from one project to the next without wasting motions. People will begin to believe the promises you make because you are following through on them. When you enter a meeting you are prepared for it and when you show that hand of knowing the topic ~ well it pays off.

It might sound funny, but I run into a lot of data professionals who are and are not organized. I get it; it happens to everyone – but if you are interested in taking steps to become organized below are some thoughts that may help you on your journey.

Set Your Priorities

Sounds easy enough? Two things that are difficult to get people to do. The first is to do things in order of importance, and the second being continuing to do the things in order of importance. Try listing out all your major responsibilities according to importance and time needed to accomplish those tasks. This will become the gauge to help keep you on track and keep moving forward. Perhaps start with a monthly checklist.

Place Priorities In Your Calendar

Place this list in a prominent area such as your calendar. You could also share this list with a trusted resource for accountability sake pending on the nature of the item.

Allow Time For The Unexpected

We all know that things will come up; that is inevitable. Based on your role as a data professional you can build in additional time to the priorities that need to be accomplished.

Do Projects One At A Time

A feeling of being overwhelmed is the result of too many projects that are clamoring for your attention. If this is something that happens to you then maybe try some of the following:

  • Itemize all that needs to be completed.
  • Prioritize things in order of importance.
  • Organize each project that suits you such as a folder.
  • Emphasize only one project at a time.

Work According To Your Temperament

If you are a morning person, then schedule time in the morning to be most effective; if you are a late starter then do the opposite. Whichever holds true, be sure to not allow the weaknesses of your temperament excuse you from what you know you need to do to work most effectively.

Use Your Driving Or Travel Time for Light Work And Growth

I was given some great advice a long time ago. Whether you ride the subway or drive the car use this time to reflect on your thoughts. I have several friends for instance who, while on the subway, knock out tasks or read a book that continues their growth process as a data professional. No, I’m not saying never turn on the radio for a jam session, but I am saying you may find some useful time on the drive in to the office.

Develop Systems That Work For You

Whether you utilize your phone, computer, calendar, or writing tasks down – all of these are there to help you do things better and quicker. By improving them, you can decrease your expenses and increase your results. Don’t fight the systems; instead improve upon them. Remember, you are the CEO of your journey.

Always Plan For Those Minutes Between Meetings

I find myself in meetings constantly. That can be both good and bad. Hours can be saved by making the best use of minutes in between meetings. I try to keep a list of things to do that can be done anywhere in a very short amount of time. Keep handy a list of things you can do in a short time such as:

  • Email reply.
  • Call to make.
  • Thank you note to jot down.

Focus On Results, Not The Activity

Doing things right versus doing the right things? Focus on doing the right things and what is truly important. Welcome responsibility and be responsible for who you are. It is often rare to find a person who will be responsible, who will follow through correctly and finish the job. An old boss of mine once told me the following:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”

Summary

Whatever the case may be take steps to improving yourself along your journey and look for ways to help improve efficiency on your day-to-day processes. These items mentioned are just to provoke your thought process; not something that is or should be a standard for you. If you’re struggling; maybe try some of them out and see how it works for you. Don’t expect more from others than you expect from yourself. Get after it and let’s get it done.

SQL Doc by RedGate

SQL DocI recently was on a call where a technical unit indicated they did not receive any form of documentation around the vendor database that was created. Now, seeing that I fall into the database profession it sparked my fancy. I began to ask a few questions to the individual who was asking for this documentation; these are important questions in that you have to determine if there is a need for what was running through my mind. Sure enough, the technical team, was just needing some guidance on overall structure and what they were dealing with in terms of tables, procedures, and so on. This group was trying to review and write a process around information they were not privy to.

My mind went straight for the SQL Doc utility that RedGate has available. It’s a simple utility really to utilize and often times can save the day for such cases like the one above. Check out the steps below on how easy the utility allows you to document a database on the fly:

Step 1: As you open the application you will be prompted to enter a server location followed by how you’d like to connect to it (Windows or SQL authentication). In this case we’ll just hook up to a local instance I have on hand.

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Step 2: Once connected you’ll have some default settings. There will be a cover page option along with the databases that you want to document.

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Step 3: Looking at the project you’ll begin to review some of the following information:

  • Database Selection
  • Server Properties
  • Server Settings
  • Advanced Server Settings
  • Sections that are included in the report

For this specific test I’m just going to take a look at the TempDB

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The screen capture will note that under Object Types you are able to drill into and get as granular as you can. The below example will show you a snippet from a table in the TempDB and will also show that you can enter a description of what the field is utilized for in the far right hand column under Description.

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Step 4: If you have to save this documentation out for any meetings or other purposes you can create a cover letter along with any logo information and description. Simply click on the cover page option on the left menu and complete the following:

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Step 5: After all the choices are made you can click on the General Documentation Go button on the menu and be prompted for the following:

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Give the location and file a name and BOOM; you’re done.

Summary

You may find yourself in a situation where you are needing a quick hit for documentation purposes. If you are an avid RedGate user and enjoy using their SQL Doc product; or maybe you had this product and didn’t even know what it was then you can benefit greatly from documenting multiple databases in a matter of minutes. This post is to show you what type of utility SQL Doc is and what it can actually be used for in a real life circumstance. In the end it was the right product and right time to use it for a technical team in need. Well done RedGate, well done.

T-SQL Tuesday #89 Invitation – The times they are a-changing

TSQL2SDAY-150x150This month’s topic by Koen Verbeeck (B|T) is based around times that are a changing. To break it down somewhat it was inspired by a blog post that Kendra Little (B|T) put together around Will the Cloud Eat My DBA Job. Koen is wanting to know with the ever-changing world of technology what kind of impact has it had on you and how do you plan to deal with the future of data management/analysis.

To The Cloud

I think one of the topics that I’ve seen a gradual change in is the topic that revolves around the cloud. Being in the financial district cloud talk is not always welcome. It is a myth to some; I am glad that a while back I headed some of Grant Fritchey’s (B|T) advice in that he said you better start learning cloud techniques sooner than later. The cloud discussion is not always a welcomed one, but is one that needs to be had to keep up with innovative technologies.

Finding what is the best solution for you and your respective area the cloud does allow for flexibility and control. One of the main issues I see most shops running into are security based around a cloud model along with costs in data size etc.

With the proper planning and oversight the cloud is a viable option that should not scare away data professionals

Third Party Utilities

I think over time some of the third-party tools have become game changers in a lot of shops. I see vendors such as SQL Sentry and Red Gate that have evolved over time to help streamline and provided better efficiencies around data management and monitoring. Cutting edge keeps the users of these third-party tools on edge and wanting more. Tying all these into automation of daily tasks and not just on premise monitoring but cloud monitoring has been a huge plus for the community.

The Way Business Interprets Data

Data is what drives us; it is what a lot of decisions are derived from and direction of companies and shops. The data is ever-changing and how we look at it. Take for example Power BI. The methods we used years ago have morphed into a greater approach of delivery to businesses. I never thought I would be watching a professional sports game and see them pull out their tablets and review live data in between innings or set of downs.

PowerShell

No, this isn’t a tribute to Mike Fal (B|T) or Drew Furgiuele (B|T), but I do appreciate their nudge in getting me to utilize PowerShell for some of my every day usage. This could fall under the third-party utilities section up above but I thought it beneficial to state that in some cases it has been a game changer. Stumbling upon the DBATools website has been a blessing in disguise; I love getting to work with technology that I may have not utilized as much in the past.

Do You Feel Endangered?

No, and neither should you. I should paraphrase that with don’t be afraid of change for it allows us to learn new technologies and grow on our journey. There will be opportunities to always learn; each day you should strive to learn something new that you didn’t know before. A wise SQL community member once told me, “The data will always be here; will you?”

T-SQL Tuesday

For those that are not aware T-SQL Tuesday is a block party started by Adam Machanic (B|T). Each month community members who blog pick a topic then gather all the blogs who participated in the event and provides a recap. It’s a great method to share knowledge and an avenue to give back to the community. If you are an avid blogger and would like to be a host then do reach out to Adam via the methods provided.