T-SQL Tuesday #157: End of Year Activity

T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party hosted by a different community member each month, and this month Garry Bargsley (blog | twitter) wants to know what activities we undertake to wrap up the year.

My ask is, what do you have planned for end-of-year activities for your SQL environment? Do you have annual processes or procedures you run? Do you clean up documentation? Do you just take time off and hope someone else does the work?

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I’m a lone DBA, covering both the production and development environments. This also puts me in an operations role, plus answering questions about data and reports and fetching data for people. As a result, I’m juggling a number of priorities as everyone else tries to wrap up their year in addition to the things I want to work on.

Between PASS Data Community Summit, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and taking PTO, I’m only spending 3 full 5-day weeks in the office in the final 2 months of the year. But the work doesn’t stop, and I’ve had to put in some late nights to get deliverables completed.

I’ve delivered a few key year-end reports for folks already this month. There’s an existing report that needs to get fixed in the next few days, and I’m consulting with someone about another report to find out if they need additional support from me to complete some changes. What else is on the docket for the little remaining time in the year?

  • Set up scheduled runs of a monthly ETL job. I can’t set the Agent schedules until the department that needs the data schedules their jobs which prepare the data my ETL job reads. That’s been done, so now I need to find the PowerShell script I wrote last year to set this up. I also need to document this process and the script so not-Andy can do it in the future if necessary.
  • We have another set of ETL jobs which need some refactoring & optimization. For now, I’m going to document what needs to be done in hopes that I can turn it over to someone else to execute on it.
  • These same ETL jobs have something strange going on which prevents me from deploying new versions to production. I need to document this problem for people more experienced with SSIS than I am to investigate and resolve. This and the above item will probably go hand-in-hand.
  • Like many companies, the end of the year is very busy and filled with critical business processes which need to be completed in a timely fashion. The final few days of the year, and the first few days of the new year, are more intense than any other period. I may make some configuration tweaks to help handle the load while keeping things responsive for everyone.
  • Because of the critical nature of the business processes being run, no major software deployments are happening. Which is good for me, from the perspective of supporting those activities - there’s less I need to do here than in an average month.
  • In the time remaining after taking care of the above, I’ve got a Jira backlog a mile deep that needs some attention. Some items in the backlog are of the “note to self: tinker with this” variety, others are things that will make my life or the lives of others easier. And some are things that need to get done because…well, they just need to get done. So I’ll probably take an afternoon to do a review, and break them out into a few groups:
    1. Oops, I already did this and forgot I had an item for it. Closed
    2. Completely aspirational, pie-in-the-sky dreaming. If I haven’t done anything with it since I wrote it up, it’s not happening. Closed
    3. Someone else can handle this if I can document it properly. Write documentation/requirements
    4. Documentation I should have written 6 months ago. Do it now, and get it over with
    5. Flesh this idea out more and re-evaluate. Prioritize appropriately.
    6. Half-finished items that just need to get pushed over the finish line. Prioritize appropriately.
    7. Follow up with the requester(s) and get additional information needed to complete. If it’s been sitting idle for 6 months, perhaps it can stay on the back burner longer, or get closed out. Prioritize appropriately.

At the time I’m writing this, I’m looking at my calendar and am cautiously optimistic about my chances of getting these done, or at least some solid progress on the. But as always, as a production/operations DBA my primary concern will be keeping things running smoothly and resolving any production issues that are preventing people from getting their work done. So a well-timed problem or a heavier-than-expected workload could upend all of this.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen and I, along with my colleagues and fellow data professionals, get to enjoy some silent nights.