Thursday, July 15, 2010

Management of Queries in Query Viewer

Issue Source: Atlas Helpdesk, Workshops, Networks

Affected Parties: Country Offices, Headquarters

Categorization: Policy – Process Prescription/Procedure

The Query Viewer is used to run pre-defined queries of Atlas data. Because queries are significantly easier to set up and because their output can be directed in multiple forms (Excel spreadsheets, HTML), many have been set up to support data requirements of country offices and headquarters.

The queries available through Query Viewer are often inconsistent and there is little documentation on what queries are appropriate to use in various situations. While some queries are “categorized” and include detailed descriptions, others contain little identification information other than the query name. At times, queries are completely incorrect and thus cannot be relied upon.

Queries are often difficult to find. There is no updated catalog of queries available to users. While Query Viewer now allows queries to be categorized into folders (after the PeopleTools 8.46 upgrade), folders are rarely used for new queries.

Selected users who have attended query training and have passed the certification exam have access to Query Manager, which allows them to create queries. Originally, these users could save queries directly in the production Atlas environment as “public” so that all users could review. Unfortunately, this has contributed to the problem. Public query access has in recent months been restricted to reduce this problem, and all queries must pass a review process before they are publicly introduced in the production environment.

However, problems still remain. First, the review process for making queries public has not been formalized, and thus there are questions on who should approve as well as what criteria there are for approval. Presumably, as queries are approved they should be added to a master listing for user reference. There are also few standards as far as how queries should be categorized into folders. Second, there is still major cleanup needed of existing queries. Queries that are duplicated, give wrong information, or are otherwise unnecessary should be deleted so users are not misled. Third, we often receive individual requests for new queries, but there is currently no procedure in place as to who should review and approve these requests and who should create the new or revised queries.

The risk of this problem can be high, as users could be misled by incorrect or confusing queries, and can thus report wrong information to donors or other external parties.

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