12/31/2010

Project Manager

I had the opportunity to work as Project Manager for one of the Clerk's projects called "Copy Request".

Basically it allows users from home, office or anywhere online to order documents from the Clerk's office.  You get charged per page and the doc is email to you or you can get certified and pay the fee for shipping.  We had a programmer, a senior programmer and an Oracle DBA assigned to the project.

There were many meetings with the customer discussing project specs, we gave an estimate of how long it would take and then began coding following the SDLC project life cycle.

Once we got more into the details it was obvious the project was going to take more hours than originally thought so I had to go back to the customer for a revised estimate which did get approved.

I had the dual role of creating the Order/Shopping Cart and creating the 2 reports in Java and IReport as well as project manager.  The other programmer did the back end order pricing pages.  That programmer got downsized and that left the majority of his work for the Senior programmer.

We worked well as a team and he guided me with the Struts portion of the code and I took the lead on creating the Shopping Cart, Reports, Web Service to allow credit card payments via the web as well as the PM role and managing the project schedule.

I met with the customer some more to give periodic demo's on our progress and once we got the final Okay to go live I had to go before our committee to pass Gate 5 which did get approved and we went live.

The one glitch we ran into was the receipt number from the credit card was 8 digits in test and when we went live the receipt number was 10 digits so we did a quick workaround until we were able to modify the web service WSDL.

In the end, the project was successful and the Clerk's Copy Request is a real money maker as the Citizens/Attorney's no longer have to drive to the court house, wait and pay.  They can do it all on-online.

And that's a win-win situation.  And that concluded my stint as project manager.

Copy Request URL...

12/29/2010

SQL-Server Reporting Services 2005 - Aggregates

I've been converting Crystal Report v.10 to SSRS 2005.  For the most part its been seamless.

Take the existing Stored Procedure plug it in, add a table to the report and fill in the fields, maybe add a few groups.

But the one thing I've noticed is Crystal Reports handles Sum's a lot easier than SSRS.  For example, trying to sum up the Grouping are not straight forward and require a lot of hoops.  I found that modifying the Stored Procedure to do the heavy calculations is the way to go.  When the calc'd values get to the report, summing them up is fairly straight forward.  That's what a lot of the newsgroups said as well.

I like Microsoft's implementation of SSRS and I really like 2008 version.

Although I have 15 years of creating report in Crystal Reports, and 2 years experience with Actuate, I've been converted to Microsoft SSRS as my reporting tool of choice.

Then add in SSIS and SSAS and it's definitely got its foot in the BI marketplace.

I will get a chance to develop some OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition) at my day job.  Can't wait to see the pros / cons of that tool.

Although reporting was once the step-child of the IT world, in the end, it has finally caught up.

It's all good.

12/28/2010

Maintenance Coding

I would consider my style of programing "maintenance".  What that means is I would prefer to inherit someone else code and maintain and enhance it.

I've done some development in the past but find it easier to improve  / troubleshoot someone else code.

I would think most programmers like to create something new, something fresh, using the latest technology.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'd prefer to program only in legacy code.  I still like to stay current.  If I get stuck maintaining some legacy Visual Basic 6 application, that might be time for a change.

But I've programmed in Java for over 3+ years now and I maintain J2EE code written in 2001.  Sure, I've replaced the CopyBooks with Java Web Services, which is actually a pretty big enhancement.

I have not learned Google Web Services or hand held device programming.  Primarily because my day job does not have that in scope nor will it.

That's why I like to do part time contracts.  To learn new skills, expand my network, solve problems, make money and make customer's happy.


Perhaps one day I'll enjoy new development more than maintaining code, but for now it's all good.

12/22/2010

Oracle Hyperion Performance Scorecards

I'm starting to look at Oracle Hyperion Performance Scorecards at my day job.  It brings back memories working for Z-Tel.  There I had a chance to work on Crystal Scorecard and learned about KPI's (Key Performance Indicators). A KPI is a preset metric and if you meet or exceed you are doing good.  At the time it was pretty new for Seagate Software and my boss and I had several meetings with their developers in England to request modifications to the application.  Crystal sent out 3 contractors to set up the KPI's and my job was to integrated them into Crystal Reports.  I also got a chance to write some MDX code which also seems to be in demand now a days.

Fast forward to now, I'm excited to work with KPI's again.  Basically, Performance Scorecards are designed for executives to glance at the overall business to quickly identify the trouble spots.  You can use the standard Red, Yellow, Green or smiley faces or frowns.  Once the poor performing bucket is identified, you can drill down further to pin point the under performers.  A lot of planning goes into this.  It does not happen by magic.  Turns out, this skill is high in demand so I am real interested in learning.  When you think of Business Intelligence, Scorecards definitely have a place.

In addition, I'm also going to learn Dashboards which is an up and coming skill set.  Oracle's version is called OBIEE and we have about 100 reports in the queue for me to write.  Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition gathers its data from an OLAP cube or Data Warehouse/Mart.  The OLAP cube contains pre-configured aggregates called Facts which get sliced by Dimensions, populated periodically from extracting data out of an OLTP (Relational Database) server.  But it also can read Excel files, Access Databases as well as SQL-Server databases.  It's quite robust and allows users to write their own reports and puts the power of the data in the users hands.  Quite interesting.

So you can see, I've got my foot in Business Objects (15 years), Microsoft BI with SSRS/SSIS on my part time job and now adding Oracle BI to the mix.  Its all good!