Recommended Reading for Business Intelligence Microsoft Newbs

A few folks have asked me to recommend books for various reasons:

  • Learning Business Intelligence with Microsoft Technologies
  • Books for CS students that are outside the CS curriculum
  • Books for programmers to either broaden their horizons or start learning business intelligence
  • Software developers who are interested in sales
  • IT types that want to learn more about SharePoint Business Intelligence

So I put together an omnibus list of books I’ve found valuable, either in learning new concepts, or helping to organize my thoughts on a given topic.

The Jericho Principle: How Companies Use Strategic Collaboration to Find New Sources of Value [amazon_link id=”0471327727″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Jericho Principle: How Companies Use Strategic Collaboration to Find New Sources of Value[/amazon_link] by Ralph Welborn (2003)
As the success of SharePoint has shown, businesses are increasingly investing in online collaboration. So many companies continue to use Outlook as their project management system, that moving to a more structured collaboration tool only makes sense.The Jericho Principle is an overview of the importance of strategic collaboration in the business world. This is not a SharePoint book, or a treatise about online collaboration tools; rather it is a discussion of collaboration in and of itself. It is a great way for techies to start understanding the business side of what they do.
Buy "The Jericho Principle" from


Successful Business Intelligence Secrets Successful Business Intelligence: Secrets to Making BI a Killer App by Cindi Howson (2007)
This is absolutely the best book for a programmer who’s familiar with database concepts to start understanding the business side of Business Intelligence. Cindi lays out the hows and whys of BI, in an easy to read format.(Not sure what business intelligence is? I have a short overview here)



Key Performance Indicators (KPI): Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs by David Parmenter (2010)
Key Performance Indicators are the “pointy end of the spear” in the business intelligence world – they are where the business side of a scorecard meets the data that runs the business. In his book, David Parmenter gives a solid foundation about what makes a good KPI, and a program to implement winning KPIs (which takes more than just a few meetings and some database queries.)


Performance Dashboards Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business by Wayne Eckerson (2010)
In addition to being a great book about dashboards in general, Wayne Eckerson’s book also provides an excellent overview of business intelligence and the challenges it faces in a modern business.I think a section which I can summarize as “the business side thinks the IT side is incompetent; the IT side thinks the business side are a bunch of spoiled whiny brats” should convince you as to why you need to read this book.


Essentials of Supply Chain Management, 2nd Edition by Michael Hugos (2006)
One of my goals is to demystify concepts. “Supply chain” is something often thrown around that can make something seem complex, when it’s not. Supply chain just means ordering, inventory, and invoicing. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot going on in there, but they’re pretty straightforward concepts.Michael Hugos’ book covers these concepts. For a hardcore developer, much of this will seem elementary, but it’s important that you understand how they fit together, and how to use the language you’ll find in the business world.If you work anywhere near SAP, you’ll need this book.


Databases Demystified by Andrew Oppel (2004)
I learned software development on Microsoft Access, so learning databases was rolled into my education from the start. However, a lot of programmers manage to learn to write code without being exposed to modern database theory. This book is for them.Everyone who writes code is going to have to deal with databases sooner or later – this means understanding normalization and learning how to write queries in SQL. (I have a pet theory that all the non-database fads, like object databases and the current NoSQL trend, are the result of developers who are afraid of SQL)



The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Normal (2002)
From an Amazon review: “Anyone who designs anything to be used by humans – from physical objects to computer programs to conceptual tools – must read this book.”If you’ve ever walked up to a glass door and couldn’t figure out whether to push or pull because both handles looked the same, this book is for you.



The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) by Frederick Brooks (1995)
Frederick Brooks created Brooks’ Law: “Adding personnel to a late project makes it later.” In The Mythical Man-Monthhe analyzes why the only way to deliver a project on time is to plan appropriately – there is no way to “save” it when it’s falling behind schedule.Another way of saying Brooks’ Law is that nine women cannot have a baby in one month…


Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten by Stephen Few (2004)
If you’re like me, you’ve probably always thought that creating tables and graphs was simply a matter of mashing buttons in Excel until things look right. This book will show you why you’re doing it wrong.Stephen Few has twenty years of experience in designing information for effective communication, and in Show Me the Numbers he will explain why nobody should ever use pie charts ever again.


Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis by Stephen Few (2009)
 Show Me the Numbers, above, is specifically focused on charts and graphs. Now You See It takes those concepts and expands them to a broader approach to analyzing data, as well as visual styles in general. If you just get one book on visual analysis, get Show Me The Numbers, but if that leaves you hungry for more, head here.


The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition by Edward Tufte(2006)
Edward Tufte is a renowned expert in visualization. He has written a scathing analysis of how the construction of the slides in PowerPoint for the Columbia Space Shuttle may have contributed to the decisions that led to the disastrous reentry.This short pamphlet summarizes the dos and don’ts regarding PowerPoint – a quick and handy reference.



Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte (1990)
Expanding beyond PowerPoint, in this book Tufte digs into various ways of visualizing information – what works and what doesn’t. Tufte’s work and Few’s books complement each other, as Tufte takes a broader, more philosophical approach to information design, while Few is more tactical.



Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets by Michael Bosworth (1994)
“But I’m not in sales!” You may complain. Your job may not involve selling products to customers, but we all have to sell at various times in our careers. Whether we are selling our boss on a promotion or an extension for a deadline, or trying to sell a team on adopting a new tool – we all sell.“Solution Selling” is something of a buzz word in the sales field, referring to how you approach a negotiation. A lot of people get too heavily involved in what they want for themselves – this generally doesn’t work. You always want to enter a discussion in terms of why the other person wants to do what you want them to do – you want to sell them the solution to a problem they have (or may not have been aware that they had.)There are a lot of formulas and walkthroughs in this book. Don’t worry about those too much – just read through it and let it sink in.



Pro SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services (Expert’s Voice in SQL Server) by Philo Janus (2010)
My latest book. SmileSQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is a funny thing – it’s incredibly useful, incredibly powerful, and if you’re running SQL Server, you have access to it for free. Yet it remains a stealth product.If you’re involved in databases, data analysis, or reporting, you owe it to yourself to understand SSAS and what it can do for you. Hopefully you’ll find my book a good way to learn.