There are no dumb queries, only dumb....
There are no dumb queries, only dumb….
“Those people are fine, they JUST write SQL.”

I often hear this in the context of visiting customers and offering to provide training (and yes, software) to their database users. There is a class of people who are deemed unworthy of such productivity tools because they do nothing but ‘just write dumb SQL all day long.’ The only problem is, I know that it’s these people that are largely responsible for running the business. When a VP needs to make an investment decision, it’s one of these analysts that provides the data to back their play.

When a supply-chain director needs to know about how many widgets were shipped to Wichita on the 3rd Tuesday of the quarter, it’s an analyst that provides the answer. While they may not be as proficient with the database as a developer or a DBA, their value to the organization is no less important. In fact, I would argue their value is equal to if not greater than a developer or DBA.

You see, it’s the analysts that understand the business. They work with numbers all day long. They know what the numbers mean. They know what they don’t mean. They tell a story with these numbers. So does their productivity and their efficiency not matter?

I hate it when someone tells me they are ‘JUST a Jr. DBA’, or they are ‘JUST a PL/SQL developer.’ Why de-value yourself? But what’s worse is when an entire class of employee is de-valued just because they don’t know the inner workings of an exception clause or don’t have a diagram of the SAN tattooed to their chest. Everyone has a role to play, everyone matters. If they did not, those chairs would be empty.

So, the next time you have budget to spend on training or tools, don’t forget about those people that ‘just write SQL’, because it’s possible that they just keep your business out of the red.


I'm a Distinguished Product Manager at Oracle. My mission is to help you and your company be more efficient with our database tools.


  1. Great article Jeff and I totally agree! As I’m one of those analysts who “just write SQL” for the past 6 years now and maybe I have been de-valuing myself, well no more! You’re right, a lot of these SQL queries I’ve run for management have been used to make executive decisions at my work. I’m finally going to improve myself and your site has inspired myself to not “just write SQL”, but to write better SQL and to learn PL/SQL as well!!! Thanks so much!

  2. Sorry, just found this post after one of your ‘archive tweets’.
    Have to say I totally, completely, utterly agree.
    Some people seem to have a tendency to look down on other people.

    I think that within a company everyone is (or at least should be) there with the exact same goal: creating happy customers so the business stays in business.

    A call center employee does so by being friendly to the calling customer.
    A developer does so by providing the proper data in a user friendly manner to the call center employee.
    A dba does so by providing a well-performing database to the developer and call center employee.
    The cleaning lady does so by making sure the dba, the developer and the call center employee have a clean bathroom to use whenever necessary.
    Is any of those less important than the other?

    Yes, if you can get the call center employee to write his/her own software.
    Yes, if you can get the developer to maintain his database.
    Yes, if you can get the dba to clean the toilets.

    So: No!

    I used to work in a laboratory.
    Once the department manager went away for a month.
    Nobody noticed until he got back and told everybody about his trip during coffee break.
    One day the guy that operated the ‘cleaning kitchen’, where all the laboratory glass was cleaned called in sick.
    Within a week people could hardly do their job anymore.

    So, you tell me who is most impotant in that environment.
    I can tell you, it’s not the guy with the highest paycheck.
    And not the guy with the ‘fancy’ white labcoat.

    • Hey Erik,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience here. Even though I wrote this 3 or so years ago, I still find this prevalent today 🙁

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