What are your best practices for ensuring the accuracy of reports from SQL?


Part of my work involves creating reports and data from SQL Server to be used as information for decision. The majority of the data is aggregated, like inventory, sales and costs totals from departments, and other dimensions.

When I am creating the reports, and more specifically, I am developing the SELECTs to extract the aggregated data from the OLTP database, I worry about mistaking a JOIN or a GROUP BY, for example, returning incorrect results.

I try to use some "best practices" to prevent me for "generating" wrong numbers:

  • When creating an aggregated data set, always explode this data set without the aggregation and look for any obvious error.
  • Export the exploded data set to Excel and compare the SUM(), AVG(), etc, from SQL Server and Excel.
  • Involve the people who would use the information and ask for some validation (ask people to help to identify mistakes on the numbers).
  • Never deploy those things in the afternoon - when possible, try to take a look at the T-SQL on the next morning with a refreshed mind. I had many bugs corrected using this simple procedure.

Even with those procedures, I always worry about the numbers.

What are your best practices for ensuring the correctness of the reports?

have you considered filling your tables with test data that produces known results and compare your query results with your expected results.