It’s Probably Not Change If It Doesn’t Cause Pain

Stressed and tired. Depressed young African man in formalwear holding head in hands and keeping eyes closed while sitting at his working place

I haven’t been writing steadily for months. The good news is that we’ve been busy and more profitable than ever. The bad news is that I’m kind of spent. And while our pipeline isn’t bad, I’m a little nervous because I haven’t focused on keeping it full. But the worse news is that, despite my multiple posts on focus, not all of our client work has been in the area of “data for finance and accounting.” That’s right. I took on a HR/payroll project. While we understand this area, and the work is getting done, it hasn’t been profitable for several reasons:

1)    I had to stretch to get the resources. While I have plenty of core folks who can work with finance and procurement data, I had to go to my “deeper bench” for this project. And while the requested reports weren’t all that challenging, when things didn’t go well I couldn’t rely on my team to figure it out. I had to jump in and fix things myself. Which isn’t good.

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Do You Know Your RQ?

iStock_000016459157Small“RQ” or “report to query ratio” is key to reporting success. When you know your ratio, you can determine the resources you need to build your reports.

Let me explain. Every report is built on two processes:

1)    Extract the data from the database.

2)    Present the data with appropriate formatting, sorting, summarization, etc.

If you’re one of the (lucky?) folks who have Crystal on your desktop, you may not see the distinction between these two processes when reporting. Crystal (and other tools, like SSRS) have nice screens that allow you to select your tables and immediately build your report, making the two processes seamless.

But once you get beyond straightforward reports, these visual tools are no longer sufficient. Also, when extraction and report logic are combined, it’s hard to figure out where your issues are.

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CSV Issues: Leading Zeroes and Scientific Notation in Excel

iStock_000015952283SmallCSV (comma separated values) are the default delimited format for many data exchanges. Most systems can turn reports into CSV files—making them easy to load into Excel. However, loading these values into Excel can create problems when the final destination isn’t Excel but another system.

Two problems tend to arise: Leading zeros are lost, and large numbers are converted to scientific notation.

Let’s take an example. The following CSV file (which we’re viewing in Notepad, not Excel) has both leading zeros in the SKU field and very large numbers in the UPC field:

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My Bike Computer and Losing Your Reputation Over Stupid Mistakes

iStock_000001996824SmallI’m getting back into cycling. While swimming and yoga are better for flexibility, I love being outside on my bike. So, even if I have to do extra yoga to compensate for time on the bike, it’s worth it.

Recently, my road bike needed service as the rear derailleur wasn’t working and the tires needed replacing. Also, the cycle computer wouldn’t turn on. I went to a local bike shop, described what I needed, and agreed to a high-end tune up. The bike was ready the next day as promised. But I’m probably not going to use the services of that bike shop again. Here’s why:

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