I work as a reporting analyst for our Support Services department for a medium sized bank in which the data is stored on a hosted sql server database and we primarily use Report Builder. The mindset here has been it's ok to export 5 queries, then copy them to one excel file in different tabs, and use vlookups to create reports. I've made so many improvements in the overall reporting by using SQL-subqueries, views, unions, tce and so on. I don't understand why my manager still won't accept SQL as a solution. My manager doesn't want to learn SQL and actually discourages me from writing in SQL (would prefer that I use Report Builder designer only). How can I convince her/him that SQL should be supported and encouraged to use. Other departments of the Bank freely use SQL to create reports. We are support services and my manager says we won't support other departments use of SQL because he/she doesn't know it. I know I'm doing the right thing because using SQL saves us so much time and it's repeatable with no chance of error compared to copying excel files and creating reports using excel formulas. Please help me understand why would my manager not want to use a better way of accomplishing our job?

Update 2 years later. I didn't give in and my boss now fully trust my knowledge and I've been able to implement many changes/improvements. All of our reports are now created directly in SQL without any manual manipulation of data. I realize this could have gone the other way but I felt strongly about my position and the purpose of why I was hired. In the process the company has recognized these improvements and I have been promoted to professional sr manager level.

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    Who will maintain your SQL queries when you quit the job?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 1, 2017 at 2:30
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    Maybe she feels threatened by you. I've been in situations like this before, with a manager who looked down on me for using technologies she was unfamiliar with. At first, I thought it was just that she didn't trust me but even after I'd been there for two years, she still didn't like my trying to find new ways to improve efficiency. You could try and convince her but maybe don't get your hopes up too much. Nov 1, 2017 at 2:36
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    Please consider breaking up this wall of text into paragraphs
    – rath
    Nov 1, 2017 at 9:38
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    Consider encapsulating your queries into views, which you provide to individuals not proficient in SQL. That way they can still use excel and the more complicated operations can be prepared in sql for them. This helped me to get acceptance up and excel-errors down.
    – Daniel
    Nov 1, 2017 at 12:27
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    Possible duplicate of My manager refuses to accept or learn new technologies
    – David K
    Nov 1, 2017 at 13:14

2 Answers 2


There are a few possibilities to consider, some or all of which may be true

1) Your manager fears the unknown Learning SQL is a hassle until you get that epiphany and it is suddenly beautiful

2) SQL-trained support staff may be more expensive It's a valuable skill, and training everybody up to spec on this (or worse, hiring new guys!) could be quite a burden

3) Report Builder generates stereotyped, tested SQL It takes way less validation than hand-rolled SQL written by you and understood only by you

There are some other possibilities, but let's keep these for now.


Talk to boss. Not accusatory, not trying to sell anything. But sincerely, with an eye to understanding his business rationale. Be honest, tell him you'd thought that moving to SQL would be a big hit. "Can you help me understand?" In other words, get the real reason. Only then can you address his hesitations. Heck, you might even agree with them.

Another thing you might do is talk to him about a list of ways you've come up with to make improvements. Hand-writing SQL can be one of them. But make sure there are others. And make gol-durned sure that floating un-source-controlled spreadsheets around is on the list (shudder). Discuss the list with boss. "Do you like any of these? Where can we tighten up our process?"

  • The "real reason" is usually money (budget) related. Many technical people find it hard to think about this aspect as the priority, when it is. Technical elegance is usually way down the list. Nov 1, 2017 at 6:34
  • no I get the impression that they use report builder just to extract data then write custom excel to actually do the analysis and supporting some random guy/gals excel is way worse than using SQL properly Nov 1, 2017 at 12:16

How many times does Excel crash on you or grinds to a halt when you're performing data manipulations? How complex are those formulas, look-ups, conditional formatting, linked sheets?

You're obviously aware that a huge amount of the complex work for these reports can be achieved easily on the SQL server and is easily reusable and a lot more optimised in data mangling than Excel ever will be.

You're also obviously aware that the SSRS reports are easier and cleaner when you're using SQL directly.

The other plus point here is that data centric developers understand SQL - it's pretty endemic with any data focused developer and it's going to be comparatively easier to recruit someone with SQL skills than someone with Excel skills.

The main problem here (I think) is that your manager wants to retain control and wants to be able to develop and maintain these reports and understand how they work. But he's an Excel guy and not a SQL guy. At some point, he's going to have to learn to trust and guide his developers and take a step back from the technical work because his lack of skills is leading to efficiency losses.

What can you do?

Ask to take ownership of a few reports and do them your way. After some time, take some feedback based on how quickly they execute and how usable the end result is. Move onwards from there.

If he's still stuck in his ways after that, I might think about making my skills more relevant in a different workplace.

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