Decision Support FAQ

DSS: Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Can everyone have a DSS account?
  2. How do I get an account?
  3. How much is it going to cost?
  4. How do I know when there’s new data available in DSS?
  5. Do you offer DSS classes?
  6. What kind of software do I need to access DSS data?
  7. How do I know which query tool to use?
  8. Do I have any other choices?
  9. How do I get DSS software?
  10. I am already authorized to use Business Objects. How do I install it? Where can I get class materials?

1. Can everyone have a DSS account?

Access to DSS tools is granted by a manager who will vouch that you have authority to view the kind of data you desire to see via DSS.

2. How do I get an account?

Have your manager email dss-support@lists.stanford.edu requesting a DSS account for you.

Financial data access in DSS is determined by Authority Manager. Please make sure your Authority Manager access is up to date. We will verify your authority or request clarification from your supervisor.

If you would like access to the research, student or staff data, please let us know. Please also let us know how you heard about DSS and why you would like access — is there a particular report you hope to produce? Is there a particular question you hope to answer?

3. How much is it going to cost?

At this time there is no charge for a DSS account, computer time, training, documentation or software.

4. How do I know when there’s new data available in DSS?

An email list is used to send out notices about changes, upgrades and server outages. You will be placed on this public list when you are assigned a DSS account. IR&DS also sends out a quarterly newsletter that will tell you if new data is available.

5. Do you offer DSS classes?

Yes, typically one or two Business Objects/Web Intelligence classes are offered every six months or so. Topics vary from report formatting to accessing sponsored projects data, or financial data. Everyone on the DSS distribution list will be notified about upcoming Business Objects classes. We also offer private training sessions conducted in our office. Send an email request to dss-support@lists.stanford.edu if you would like to request a training session.

6. What kind of software do I need to access DSS data?

You need a type of application called a query tool. Query tools give you menus, buttons, lists and other point-and-click features to compose requests to the DSS database. Without a query tool, you would have to know Structured Query Language (SQL) in order to compose a request for data from a relational database. You also need some software to send your request from your PC to the DSS database and to transfer the results of the query from the DSS database back to your computer.

Query results are returned to you in table format. You can apply additional formatting with the query tool or transfer the results to a spreadsheet or other desktop application.

As with spreadsheets, drawing programs and word processors, there are many companies that sell query tools. Several years ago the DSS team evaluated query tools that were available for both the Macintosh and PC, and selected Business Objects and Hyperion Interactive Reporting (formerly Brio Query).

Most of our users use Business Objects full-client software, which runs on a PC. Macintosh-based users have the option to use VMWARE to empulate a PC, or they can request access to the Citrix server through http://connect.stanford.edu.

7. How do I know which query tool to use?

Business Objects is the primary DSS query tool. Business Objects has lots of features that make it easy to find what you want, build queries and format reports. Business Objects allows the DSS team to limit your view of the database to particular portions of data. Most of the financial and sponsored projects data in the DSS database is available through Business Objects, so if your primary interest is in financial or sponsored projects data, Business Objects is the correct query tool for you.

Hyperion Interactive Reporting is only used by clients when they need access to data in the DSS database that is not yet available in Business Objects. A very limited number of Hyperion licenses are available for distribution to clients, so you may need to purchase your own copy. If you are not sure which tool to use, the DSS team will advise you.

8. Do I have any other choices?

You may purchase other commercial query tools to connect to the DSS database once you have a DSS account and connectivity software to access the database server. Examples of other query tools might be Microsoft Access or SAS. The DSS team can recommend resources for helping you to get set up and can provide support for the DSS data, but we will not be able to provide support on the use of the tool.

9. How do I get DSS software?

Contact dss-support@lists.stanford.edu.

10. I am already authorized to use Business Objects. How do I install it? Where can I get class materials?

Please see our Business Objects Downloads page. Please note that you will have to enter your SUNet userid and password into WebAuth to access these documents.