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Business Intelligence

Excel is one of the world’s most popular BI tools.

It’s also the source of much unhappiness. (See, for example, my post The Pivot Table Gateway Drug.)

So, why do I think suffering in Excel can be the first step to BI success?

Because if your users are doing something month after month in Excel — and it’s consuming hours and days of their lives — you can immediately deduce a few things:… Read More

Almost every one of my clients depends on some kind of SaaS solution for some part of their operation. 

Whether it’s payroll, accounting or electronic records, the data is controlled by their vendor of choice.  

This is all well and good for basic processing. But too often, it doesn’t work well when it comes time to actually understand the data or (even more so) combine the data with data from other systems.  

Why?… Read More

Last fall, my attendance at the SQL Summit was entirely justified by a presentation by Aaron Nelson, a SQL Server MVP on Excel, PowerShell and SQL Server.

Unfortunately, I regularly suffer from having Excel as a data source. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t happen.

Logically, no one would buy a SaaS solution without first figuring out how the data in that system would be accessed and combined with all the other data your organization needs.… Read More

When an organization has data questions, those questions can sometimes be answered by writing reports directly over the systems where the data was entered—whether that’s an EHR (Electronic Health Records) or accounting system. Often, this approach works just fine for financial statements and basic operational reporting. (Indeed, I’ve written before (back in 2011) about how to use the general ledger as a simple datamart/data warehouse.… Read More

Over the course of the last seven years, I created over 300 posts for my blog. These posts were written sporadically. Some years, I wrote over 100. This year, I’ve written maybe two.

But as I focus my business on “helping social service agencies maximize revenue and results with data,” I find myself answering the same set of questions. Some questions are strategic, (“How do we become more data driven?”).… Read More

An article in Politico caught my attention recently. It was about the Health Homes program and some of its problems.

For those of you not familiar with this program, here’s a brief explanation from the article:

Health homes are not brick-and-mortar buildings. They are a concept based on the idea that if several providers work together to coordinate care for the most expensive Medicaid patients, they can provide better care at a lower cost.

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Several of my clients are New York-based social service agencies. As such, much of their income depends on Medicaid reimbursement. The problems they face are two fold: First, they need to make sure staff members document client work in a way it can be billed. That’s important, but it’s not something I deal with.

Second, they need to figure out how much they’re billing and collecting—and where the differences lie.… Read More

Many nonprofit agencies have reporting requirements that go beyond GAAP. For example, in New York State, social service agencies depend on state funding to serve their clients. To get this funding, they must submit various CFRs (Consolidated Fiscal Reports) to various NYS departments, including the OPWDD, OMH, OASAS, and OCFS (i.e. Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Service, and Office of Children and Family Services).… Read More

I wrote a while ago about being less of a jerk. And I think I’ve been making progress (although you’d have to ask my team). But this week, I lost it. I raised my voice. I yelled at the project lead of a consulting team I was working with. It was only for a moment. It felt good. And it got the results I wanted. But that's not how I like to operate. But why then why am I #sorrynotsorry? To help you understand, here’s my (admittedly biased) take on the situation: For several weeks, I’ve been pushing the PM's team to get certain things to the client. It wasn't going well. And this week, the team promised something and failed to deliver it. But that wasn’t the reason I yelled. When I spoke to the PM, he used weasel words to try and explain his way out of it, instead of...