In our previous post, we learned how to append the date to flat file exports. This represents an intermediate level skill in SSIS but can be incredibly helpful in production business environments. Unfortunately, everything we have looked at in SSIS so far has related to flat files. More often than not our business users would prefer to receive data extracts in Excel files. In this lesson, we explore how to use SSIS to export data to Excel.

Defining the Source Data

If you haven’t done so already, open up the SSIS solution in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) or Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) named “Credit Union SSIS Solution” or create a new SSIS solution.

Right clicking on the folder named “SSIS Packages” in the “Solution Explorer”, create a new package and rename it “Export to Excel.dtsx”.

As we have done in previous SSIS examples, drag a “Data Flow Task” from the “SSIS Toolbox” onto the blank Control Flow editor of the SSIS package.

Data Flow Image

To proceed to the “Data Flow” editor, either select the “Data Flow” tab to the right of the “Control Flow” tab just above the main editor panel or double-click on the “Data Flow Task” item in the control flow designer.

Like with any “Data Flow Task”, we need to define the source of our data. Since our data source will be the result of a SQL query, drag an “OLE DB Source” item from the “SSIS Toolbox” to the designer.


Next, we need to define the data source. To do this, double-click on the “OLE DB Source” item. A blank “OLE DB Source Editor” window will appear on screen.

Blank OLE DB Source Editor

Set the “OLE DB connection manager” dropdown to the proper database in which your data resides. We walked through this in our post that talked about how to use SSIS to export data to flat files. Refer to that post if you need some assistance walking through that process.

Once you have defined the “OLE DB connection manager” dropdown, change the “Data access mode” dropdown to “SQL Command”. This allows us to return the results of a specific query as opposed to an entire table. I am going to complete a query that returns the names of all current employees and to what branch they are assigned. To this, I will use the query seen in the image below:

OLE DB Source 2

Once you have the query defined, press the “Columns” option in the window’s left panel. Verify that the columns that appear on the screen are the columns that you wish to export to Excel.

OLE DB Columns

Press “OK” once you have done this. We now have our data source defined!

Defining the Excel Destination

Exporting to an Excel destination has some differences compared to exporting to flat files. SSIS essentially treats the Excel destination like a SQL table in some ways which we will see upon completion of this walkthrough.

To define our Excel destination, drag the “Excel Destination” item from the “SSIS Toolbox” out onto the designer.

Dragged Excel Destination

Click on the “OLE DB Source” item and drag the blue arrow to the “Excel Destination” item and then release. If done correctly, the two items should be connected by the blue arrow:

Connected Items

Double-click on the “Excel Destination” item. The “Excel Destination Editor” window will appear. This is nearly the same exact window that appears when you define an OLE DB source. The only difference here is that we are defining the destination instead of the source of the data.

Excel Destination Editor Blank

Click the “New” button to the right of the “Excel connection manager” dropdown. When the “Excel Connection Manager” window appears, press “Browse”. A file explorer window will appear.

Create Excel Connection

Navigate to wherever you would like to create your Excel destination. I will be leaving mine on my Desktop. In the “File name:” text box, type “Active Employees” and then press “Open”. This creates the Excel destination. When you press “Open” you will be returned to the “Excel Connection Manager” window. Leave the checkbox next to “First row has column names” checked and then press “OK”.

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You will be brought back to the “Excel Destination Editor” window. We have, at this point, defined what Excel file our data will be sent to. However, we now need to define the actual sheet that the data will reside in. Think of the Excel file as the database and the spreadsheet as the actual table.

To define this, click the “New” button to the right of the “Name of the Excel sheet” dropdown. You will notice that a script is automatically generated in the “Create Table” window that appears. It recognizes the columns that are contained in the OLE DB Source and properly defines the data types for each column. Press “OK”.

When you are returned to the “Excel Destination Editor” window, select “Excel_Destination” from the “Name of the Excel sheet” dropdown. Once you have done this, click the “Mappings” option from the left panel of the window.


Press “OK” once this has been completed.

Export Data to Excel

Now that all of the steps have been completed, we can test to see how our package works. Press the green play button or F5 to start debug mode and execute the package. If you get an error that mentions something about running the package in 32-bit mode, head to the main menu, hover over “Project” and choose “Credit Union SSIS Solution Properties” – the last item in the menu. When there, click the “Debugging” option under “Configuration Properties”. Set the “Run64BitRuntime” property to “False”. Apply and press “OK”.

If the package successfully executed, your screen should like the image below:

Successful Execution

Navigate to the Excel file that you sent the data to and open it up. Notice the number of rows in your Excel spreadsheet (in my case, 755 including the header). Close the Excel file and then go back to SSIS and execute the package again. Once executed, re-open the Excel file the data was exported to. Notice the number of rows now.

SSIS will not overwrite the rows and will simply add another 754 data rows (in my case) to the spreadsheet. Since SSIS treats the Excel destination like a SQL table in many regards, the data will be appended instead of being overwritten. This is a subtle yet critical difference between working with Excel exports and flat file exports.

Despite some subtle differences, the majority of the steps to use SSIS to export data to Excel are identical to exporting data to flat files. As you continue to use SSIS, you will become more familiar with these processes and be able to quickly make simple packages with ease!