Export previews – make it easy for your project sponsors

In the early stage of your ILM project, or whenever taking over some new aspect, It’s worth putting some effort in to drawing a clear picture for whoever has the job of approving your change. What I try to do is produce a spreadsheet that shows, very clearly, the adds and deletes; and in the case of updates, the old attribute value next to the new attribute value.

Test Server

Of course you should be testing all your changes on your test server first. It’s really not a good idea to wing it on your production server because syncs are impossible to roll back. If you make a change, and then realise you have to wait for approval, you may have to stop all exports, at least from the effected MA(s). The only full-proof way to reverse the change is to delete and reimport your CSs – and, depending on the amount of data, this can take a LONG time.

So: back to the test server. If you’ve managed to sort out the MIIS groups thing, then you can backup your production MIIS database, and restore it on your test server. You will now have the fully populated connector spaces, so there should be no need to do actual imports from the live data to produce an accurate preview.

Export to file

The next step is pretty obvious. make your change, run your syncs, and then use the “export to file and stop run” option of the export run profile. If you have shed-loads of data then consider restricting the export to a representitive sample.

Clean up the file

The XML file produced by the export can be opened in Excel, but it will contain a lot of information that you really don’t want to inflict on management – not if you want a quick approval out of them anyway. So spend some time tidying it up.

One thing I find is that people find it a lot easier if the “old value” and the “new value” are presented next to each other, and not on seperate lines as in the XML file. If you’re clever with your sorting you should be able to get yourself in a situation where the “add” is on one line with the “delete” directly beneath.

Now you have to muck around for a bit with functions, pasting values, and removing redunant columns, to end up with something like the first picture in this post. Here’s a function which may help:

=if(and(B1=B2, C1=C2, E1="add"), D2, "")

Why are we doing all this again?

People get nervous about automatic changes, and they want reassurance that the changes will be the right ones. This is only fair, and as a good ILM designer you should provide information in a clear enough way to set their minds at ease.

And besides, its a great way to pick up bad data. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen bad data from the supposedly master source about to overwrite good data in the destination. Showing this in black and white isn’t a bad way of driving home the point that “your data’s not as clean as you thought it was”.