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Financial Data Model Overview. Daniel Grieb Lori Silvestri. Agenda. Reporting Solution Star Schema Primer Data Modeling Process Finance Data Models Design Challenges and Choices Implementation Conclusion. Finance Data Modeling Guidelines.

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financial data model overview

Financial Data Model Overview

Daniel Grieb

Lori Silvestri

  • Reporting Solution
  • Star Schema Primer
  • Data Modeling Process
  • Finance Data Models
  • Design Challenges and Choices
  • Implementation
  • Conclusion
finance data modeling guidelines
Finance Data Modeling Guidelines
  • Campus Solution must use CSU Finance Reporting Solution as Source
  • Replace Existing
    • Revenue and Expense (P & L)
    • Trial Balance Reporting
    • Drill from Summary to Transaction
  • Need daily refresh of large data sets
  • Anticipate analytical reporting
levels of reporting
Levels of Reporting

Enterprise Data Warehouse

  • Combined information from multiple source systems. Current and historical information
  • Much more sophisticated data structures to enable analysis: cubes and star schema


Operational Reporting

  • Tactical data from production systems that address operational needs
  • Denormalized data structures with embedded business logic


  • Transactional Reporting
  • Supports day to day transactional users
  • Requires knowledge of transactional data


csu reporting solution
CSU Reporting Solution
  • Attribute Tables
    • one set for each Set ID
  • Transaction Tables
    • separate tables per Business Unit
  • Summary Table
    • XXCMP and XXCSU

* Brothwell, Kist, and Yelland, “Finance 9.0 Reporting Solution Training” April, 2008

csu reporting solution attributes
CSU Reporting Solution - Attributes
  • Attribute Tables – one set for each Set ID (XXCMP, XXCSU, XXGAP)
    • Fund CSU_R_FUND_TBL
    • Department CSU_R_DEPT_TBL
    • Account CSU_R_ACCT_TBL
    • Program CSU_R_PRGM_TBL
    • Project CSU_R_PROJ_TBL
    • Class CSU_R_CLASS_TBL
  • Can be joined to transaction and summary tables
  • Department table contains “flattened” version of the campus organization department tree

* Brothwell, Kist, and Yelland, “Finance 9.0 Reporting Solution Training” April, 2008

csu reporting solution transactions
CSU Reporting Solution - Transactions
  • Transaction Tables – separate tables per Business Unit
  • Campus Business Unit Transaction Tables
    • Actuals CSU_R_ACTDT_CMP
    • Budgets CSU_R_BUDDT_CMP
    • Encumbrances CSU_R_ENCDT_CMP
    • Pre-Encumbrances CSU_R_PREDT_CMP
  • CSU Business Unit Transaction Tables
  • GAP Business Unit Transaction Tables

* Brothwell, Kist, and Yelland, “Finance 9.0 Reporting Solution Training” April, 2008

csu reporting solution summary
CSU Reporting Solution - Summary
  • Summary Tables (XXCMP and XXCSU)
  • Campus Business Unit Summary Table
  • CSU Business Unit Summary Table

* Brothwell, Kist, and Yelland, “Finance 9.0 Reporting Solution Training” April, 2008

benefits of the reporting solution to the dimensional data model
Benefits of the Reporting Solutionto the Dimensional Data Model
  • Validated independently
    • Reporting solution was validated between January and September 2008
    • Finance was heavily invested in, helped design and trusted the reporting solution
    • Sped up data model validation because we could tie to the reporting solution
      • Finance validated within days, rather than weeks
      • Validated using the dashboards
benefits of the reporting solution to the dimensional data model11
Benefits of the Reporting Solutionto the Dimensional Data Model

Reporting solution now used in parallel by Finance for internal querying and to fill ad hoc requests

  • Phase one of the data models did not have to incorporate all of the reporting solution data
  • Helped constrain project scope
what is a star schema
What Is a Star Schema

The star schema is perhaps the simplest data warehouse schema. It is called a star schema because the diagram of this schema resembles a star, with points radiating from a central table. The center of the star consists of a large fact table and the points of the star are the dimension tables.

star schema database design
Star Schema Database Design

Star Schema - a data model that consists of one fact table and one or more dimension tables

Dimension Table

Dimension Table

Fact Table


facts and/or measures to be analyzed (i.e., amount, count, etc.)

and foreign keys (keys to dimension tables)

Dimension Table

Dimension Table

Dimension Table –

Contains attributes describing a campus entity (i.e., department, account type, ledger, etc.)

star schema
Star Schema


  • Fact tables contain process activity located in the center (quantitative data) Some example facts are monetary amount, budget amount and statistics amount
  • Dimensions tell the story and provide the detail to the facts. Which department’s budget? When was the last transaction posted for a given account?






star schema benefits
Star Schema Benefits
  • Data model is easy to understand
    • Based on business process
  • Easy to define hierarchies
    • City-State-Country
    • Day-Accounting Period-Fiscal Year
  • Easy to navigate
    • Number of table joins reduced
    • Star schema recognized by leading query tools
  • Maintainable and Scalable
    • Dimension tables shared between data models
    • Can add new fact tables which use existing dimensions
why star schema for cal poly finance
Why Star Schema for Cal Poly Finance?
  • Dimensions can easily be reused
    • across current and future finance models
  • Superior query performance for large datasets
    • i.e., over 5 million rows
  • Usability
    • Understandable for users
    • Better support unanticipated questions
  • Star schemas are extremely compatible with business intelligence query tools such as OBIEE.
data modeling process
Data Modeling Process
  • Interactive/ Iterative Process
  • Requirements Gathering
  • Domain research
  • Data profiling
  • Modeling tool
  • Design sessions with data steward
data modeling process requirements gathering
Data Modeling Process: Requirements Gathering
  • Primarily Done by Reporting Solution Development
  • Our Requirement – Refashion Reporting Solution into a Dimensional Model
    • Performance
    • Accessibility
data modeling process research
Data Modeling Process: Research
  • Domain research
    • Finance
    • Cal Poly Financials
    • Cal Poly Reports (nVision, Brio)
    • Industry Finance Models (Kimball)
  • Data profiling
    • Querying reporting solution
    • Correlating fields/ values
    • Matrix of Attributes Across Document Sources
data modeling process design
Data Modeling Process: Design
  • Modeling tool
    • Needed a tool to support efficient design
    • Limitations of modeling tools like Visio
    • Embarcadero ER Studio
  • Design sessions with data steward
    • model reviews
      • Validated groupings of attributes into dimensions
      • New (non-reporting solution) sources

(i.e., dept, prog and proj trees)

    • prototyping dashboards
cal poly finance data models
Cal Poly Finance Data Models
  • 4 data models implemented to date
  • 22 Dimensions
    • Reused across models
    • Chart fields, Business unit, Ledger, etc
  • 4 Fact tables
    • Actual Transactions
    • Budget Transactions
    • Encumbrance Transactions
    • Actual, Budget and Encumbrance Summary




(Dept ID,



High Level Finance Data Model Diagram





Fund, etc)




(Acctg. Period,

Fiscal Year, etc.)




(Business Unit,


closer look at a dimension
Closer Look at a Dimension
  • Department
  • Initial source was CSU Reporting Solution Department Attribute table
closer look at a dimension31
Closer Look at a Dimension
  • Source Department table
    • contains “flattened” version of campus organization department tree
    • Ragged hierarchy
  • Added additional source data – Cal Poly department tree
    • Non-ragged hierarchy
    • Robust hierarchy for data exploration
    • Supports reporting on department reorganization or renaming
    • Cal Poly users are accustomed to using this tree
closer look at department dimension
Closer Look at Department Dimension
  • Department Budget Specialist and Manager
    • Reporting Solution provides a single manager field
  • Cal Poly Needs Primary and Secondary Budget Specialists and Managers
    • Available for querying and display in reports
    • Used for access control in Finance dashboards - filtering / ease of use
  • Source – Excel Spreadsheet
    • Provided by Finance
    • Updated weekly
    • Plan to create mini-web application to capture data in future
transactional vs summary models
Transactional vs. Summary Models
  • Dimensions in the summary model are a subset of those in the transactional models
    • Allows for drill-across from summary to transactional models
    • “Feels like” a drill-down
design challenges
Design Challenges


  • Reporting solution is denormalized
    • PolyData typically sources normalized data sources and manages denormalization


  • Took us a little outside of our comfort zone
  • Deconstructed the reporting tables into unique combinations of elements
design challenges38
Design Challenges


  • Attributes are “overloaded”
    • For example, a document_id can represent an invoice number, a PO number, a journal identifier, etc.


  • Preserved this concept in the dimensional models because it is familiar to Finance
design challenges39
Design Challenges


  • Uniqueness not enforced in the reporting solution


  • Added an instance number for identical transactions
design challenges40
Design Challenges


  • Nightly rebuild of the reporting solution potentially deletes rows


  • Effective-dated transactions in the fact
design challenges41
Design Challenges


  • Transactional and summary reporting tables may not tie
    • journal vs. ledger sources
    • summing the detail may give the wrong answer


  • This is a known issue to which Finance is accustomed
  • Opportunity for a dashboard integrity report
design challenges naming
Design Challenges - Naming


  • Reporting Solution names did not conform with PolyData Warehouse standards


  • Data Warehouse standards
    • Field and table names use full English words when possible for usability
    • Codes precede corresponding description (Code, Descr)
  • Used reporting solution names with full spelling and adding ‘Code’ and ‘Descr’ where appropriate.
design choices slowly changing dimensions
Design Choices – Slowly Changing Dimensions
  • Most dimensional attributes were determined by data steward to be slowly changing dimension Type 1 (SCD1).
  • Exception: Department Table
    • SCD1 attributes such as department description
    • SCD2 department tree data
  • *IF* you need to track historical changes to dimensions
    • You may need to source dimensions from source system(s)
    • Candidates include chart fields, vendors, customers
design choices scd example
Design Choices – SCD Example
  • Cal Poly needs department tree history
    • Department tree data
      • Slowly Changing Dimension Type 2 - preserves history
      • Effective date rows (effective from and to dates)
      • Add new row for each change
    • All other department attributes
      • Slowly Changing Dimension Type 1 – overwrites history
      • Replace old/outdated data with current
design choices new sources
Design Choices – New Sources
  • In design and prototyping sessions with end users, it became apparent that additional source data was needed
  • New non-reporting solution sources were needed to supplement existing source.
    • Department tree
    • Program tree
    • Project tree
  • Design change from using only reporting solution as source
time and resources
Time and Resources
  • Modeling/Domain familiarization
    • 2 data modelers
    • June through August 2008
  • Source-to-Target analysis and documentation
    • 2 analysts
    • July through September 2008
time and resources48
Time and Resources
  • Coding and system integration
    • 4 ETL programmers
    • August through October 2008
  • Total person-days
    • July through October 2008
    • Approximately 140 person-days
time and resources49
Time and Resources
  • Caveats
    • Established documentation methods and coding standards
    • Slowly changing logic developed or provided by toolset
    • 3 transactional models implemented identically
performance tuning nightly build
Performance Tuning:Nightly Build
  • Coordination with Finance on their builds
    • Nightly processing
    • Reporting solution (in transactional database)
  • Approximately one month to level out on timing
    • Tuning specific to the finance jobs
    • Coordination with other PolyData warehouse jobs
performance tuning end user tables
Performance Tuning:End-User Tables
  • Performance was reasonable prior to indexing
    • Largely due to the dimensional structure
  • Performance screamed after indexing
    • Indexes on fields used in selection criteria and drillable hierarchies
    • Bitmap indexes on foreign keys in facts
implementation interface with front end developers
Implementation: Interface with Front End Developers
  • joins should be fully documented
  • front end developers may need some training in interpreting models
  • we still have not come up with an ideal method for documenting hierarchies
  • challenge - knowledge of hierarchies is shared
    • data steward
    • front end developers
    • modelers
future work
Future Work
  • Labor Cost
  • GAAP Reporting
  • Management Dashboard/Analytics
  • Integration with HR and Student Data

Daniel Grieb

Data Warehouse Architect, Analyst/Programmer

Lori Silvestri

Data Warehouse Analyst/Programmer

  • OBIEE Technical Conference:
  • Email: