Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services Custom Cubes: Financial Reporting (Part I)

About the Series …

This is the seventh
article of the series, Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services. As
stated in the first article, Creating Our
First Cube
, the primary focus of this series is an introduction to
the practical creation and manipulation of multidimensional OLAP cubes. The
series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MS
SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services (“Analysis Services“), with each
installment progressively adding features designed to meet specific real –
world needs. For more information on the series, as well as the hardware /
software requirements to prepare for the exercises
we will undertake,
please see my initial article, Creating Our
First Cube
.

Introduction

In the first article of the series,
we used the Cube Wizard to build an initial cube with the assistance of
the Dimension Wizard. We progressed through subsequent articles, creating
similar dimensions to those we built with the Wizard, focusing largely in our second article on using the Dimension Editor to illustrate options for
building a more customized cube. We continued this examination of dimensions
in Article Three, where we recreated the calendar time
dimension
, in this instance focusing on the process through which the Dimension
Wizard
converts existing time / date fields to a time dimension, along with
its hierarchy of levels and members. Article Three also
exposed ways to customize the predefined, time-related properties that the
wizard establishes in building the time dimension, suggesting options for
customization of these properties to enhance the cube, from the dual
perspectives of user-friendliness and the reporting needs of the organization.
We created an example of an alternate time dimension for fiscal time
reporting, and then we discussed some of the considerations surrounding the
simultaneous housing of both hierarchies in the same OLAP cube structure.

In Article Four, we examined another special type of dimension,
the Parent – Child dimension, and explored the attributes that make it
different from other dimensions. We discussed the considerations that surround
Parent-Child dimensions, such as the recursive nature of their data sources,
and various actions that must be handled differently in their creation and
maintenance. We created a parent-child dimension using the Dimension Wizard,
within which we worked with levels and properties. Finally, we enabled values
at the parent level of our newly created parent-child dimension. In Article Five, Working with the Cube Editor, we
reviewed, summarized and integrated many of the concepts and components that we
had previously constructed individually in earlier lessons. We undertook a
complete cube build “from scratch,” pulling together all that we had learned,
to demonstrate the assembly of a cube more sophisticated than the cube we
generated in our first lesson with the Cube Wizard.

In Article Six, our last article, Exploring Virtual Cubes, we introduced the concept of
virtual cubes, and practiced their creation and use. We discussed the options
that virtual cubes provide, from the often-intermingling perspectives of
consolidation of multiple data sources, presentation enhancement and control,
and other functionality. Through the use of hands-on illustrations, we
demonstrated some of the options that virtual cubes offer, to extend the functionality and capabilities
of individual OLAP cubes

In
this article, we will build a cube to meet some
illustrative business requirements of a hypothetical corporate financial
reporting function. We will expand upon many of the concepts we introduced in
earlier lessons, and then we will discuss some of the challenges that accompany
cube design for financial reporting.

In this two-part article, we will:

  • Explore
    some of the challenges that accompany cube design for financial reporting,
    both from the outset of the lesson and at appropriate points as we
    progress the design and development of the Financial Reporting Cube
    structure;
  • Create
    a core Financial Reporting Cube, focusing initially on the expense side of
    the Income / Profit and Loss Statement (in Part I), then integrating the
    revenue data into the design (Part II);
  • Explore
    dimension and dimension level member properties, and practice nuances
    involved in leveraging their setpoints to add value and user-friendly
    utility to our design;
  • Discuss
    rollup and aggregation concepts and considerations;
  • Introduce
    methods of sign control within our calculations and presentation;
  • Discuss
    and illustrate the provision for the storage of “footnote” and / or
    “information only” data for specific reporting needs;
  • Address
    formatting and other considerations that arise as we create a cube to meet
    the needs of our information consumers.
William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.

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