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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Archives: May 2013

Power View for Multidimensional Models Released

As a followup to my blog Power View for Multidimensional Models – Preview Available, the final version is now available via SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 4.

So you can now create Power View reports against multidimensional models (the initial release only worked against tabular… Read more

3 comments, 1,193 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 31 May 2013

Ralph Kimball Books

If you are involved in Business Intelligence, then the books by Ralph Kimball are required reading:

The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Building Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Systems, Second Edition, 2008, 636 pages (Amazon).  Subject: Implementation guide.  Primary Audience: Good overview for all project… Read more

8 comments, 1,477 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 30 May 2013

Business Intelligence Requirements Gathering

There are three fundamental steps in building a data warehouse for a BI solution (see Why you need Business Intelligence):

  1. Identify the data the users interact with, or would like to interact with, via interviews.  Make sure to determine the granularity of the data that is needed, if Type…

Read more

2 comments, 3,535 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 28 May 2013

I’m presenting at the PASS Summit!

I am fortunate enough to have been selected to give a presentation at the PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte, NC on October 14-18.  It’s amazing to think that, although I have been in IT for 25 years, I first started to build my brand when I started this blog only… Read more

0 comments, 531 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 23 May 2013

Consulting company: Perm/Salaried vs 1099/W2

One of my pet peeves is seeing a top-notch BI architect/developer working as a salaried/perm employee of a consulting company where they are making a good salary but are being billed out to the client at a rate that is 3-4 times what they are making.  Are they getting taken… Read more

1 comments, 1,486 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 21 May 2013

When the person you hire is not the person you hire

This is something I just heard about recently, but then experienced it for myself.

This story was told to me: A client is looking for a contractor and contacts a staffing firm to find candidates.  The staffing firms sends a resume that looks real good.  A technical interview is done… Read more

2 comments, 657 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 16 May 2013

Should placement companies use a markup %?

To expand on what I talked about in Should a placement firm tell you what they are billing the client?: If you are a consultant working through a placement firm, should the markup percentage (client bill rate divided by consultant rate minus one) be the same no matter what… Read more

1 comments, 588 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 14 May 2013

Data cleansing in SSIS, DQS, and MDS

Data cleansing can be done via SSIS as well as Data Quality Services (DQS) and Master Data Services (MDS).  The lines are a bit blurred when talking about data cleansing using SSIS, DQS and MDS.  In what product should data be cleaned?  To give examples: having to convert a… Read more

2 comments, 1,999 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 9 May 2013

Billing rates – other side of the fence, part 2

Here is another response to my blog “Should a placement firm tell you what they are billing the client?” (the first response was Billing rates – other side of the fence).  My purpose of these blogs is to give more understanding as to what determines the margin… Read more

0 comments, 689 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 7 May 2013

Want me to do a presentation?

I greatly enjoy doing presentations on a variety of topics, such as Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and personal development.  If you would like me to do a presentation, just ask!  For descriptions of presentations I have done before, along with other possible topics, check out Presentations.

Read more

0 comments, 534 reads

Posted in James Serra's Blog on 2 May 2013