917.848.7284Data for Finance and Accounting

Top

Lighter Side of BI

That pivot table was so seductive. It made it easy to get your data out when all IT would give you was a huge data dump. The boss was happy. And the numbers worked fine. So, why worry? But then next month, someone asked you to combine that data with a dump from another system. What harm could there be? Just a simple VLOOKUP? You didn’t even have to copy and paste data between spreadsheets—just specify the file you wanted in the formula and everything was fine. But then, the pivot table wasn’t enough. Someone wanted special formatting. And you thought, it’s really time to get this into the system. But the report writers were backed up. And IT had other priorities. But with just a few more formulas and GETPIVOTDATA, and you could be the hero. So, you worked through the weekend, and the numbers were fine. But then, you went over...

I received great feedback on the Goldilocks post. Thanks. Thinking about it more, I realize I was describing the ?what? of good project management ? not too hard, not too soft. The bigger question, though, is how do you get there? For every Baby Bear out there, there are plenty of Papa Bears and Mama Bears. If Baby Bear?s style seems right to you (as it does to Red Three), here are our four keys to a successful project: 1) We acknowledge that we don't know exactly what the end result will be. Formally, people refer to this as Agile project management, and it's fundamental to every software or reporting project we do. It demonstrates how software is different from other kinds of projects. When architects design buildings, they want exact specifications: size, shape, color, and so on. In software, the end result isn't so clear. We have a basic idea of what's supposed...

One of my clients asked where my funny posts come from. I'm flattered people like the writing. I try for amusing and entertaining, and I like to think I'm just naturally funny. But I looked at my data; and I realized it's really more a matter of effort than talent. Let's do the numbers. (And in the spirit of ditching your decimals, we're rounding all numbers here.) Let's start with how much writing I do. I post three times a week and my average post is 350 words. So, that's about 4500 words a month that actually make it on the blog. For each month?s worth of posts, there are probably another five ideas I scope out but that don't get posted. So, I'm up to 6000 words a month. Of the 14 posts or so that make the final cut, about a third I get right on the first shot....

Goldilocks was Director of Reporting for Acme Widgets. She needed to get a dashboard built to analyze their sales of anvils to Coyotes, who chase Roadrunners (naturally). So she went to the Project-Managing Bears she knew, each of whom had their own consulting firm. First Goldilocks went to Mama Bear. Mama Bear said, "Sure, no problem! Let me work on the plan." And four weeks later Mama Bear came back with a beautiful 1,000-line Gantt chart and an 18-month estimate. Goldilocks said "That's all very nice, Mama Bear, but this market is moving quickly. We can't wait 18 months to understand our data." Next Goldilocks went to Papa Bear, who immediately started coding. "Come back next Monday," said Papa Bear. "I should be done by then." Goldilocks felt excited, but nervous. Could Papa Bear really deliver something that quickly? And when Goldilocks came back the next Monday, sure enough there were beautiful...

We spend most of our days making data work for people. But before it can work, two things have to happen. One ? the data has to be there; it can't be lost because your server crashed or your cloud provider went down. Two - the data has to be secure; you can't have a laptop with the Social Security Numbers and compensation of the entire executive committee go missing. But all too often I find that our clients ask the wrong questions about security. Metaphorically speaking, they install a dozen locks and a high-tech motion detector on the front door but leave the windows wide open. So to help assess the level of security risk that threatens your data, I've developed this simple quiz. Answer the nine questions below to determine just how vulnerable your data may be. 1. I send emails to the wrong person? (a) Never ? I've modified my...

  A family on a trip to the Museum of Natural History comes across a display of a particularly interesting dinosaur. The massive beast is displayed in an impressive pose - standing on it's muscular back legs, mouth agape, razor-sharp teeth fully bared. As the family stands admiring the display, a museum docent approaches. "Impressive, isn't she?" the docent asks. Each member of the family concurs, and the docent continues, "This dinosaur is 60,000,038 years old." "How is that possible?" asks mom. "How could you know the age so exactly?" "Simple," replies the docent, "when I started working here they told me the dinosaur was 60 million years old. That was 38 years ago." Ridiculous? Of course! But how often do we do the same thing in business - treating a number that is no more than an approximation as though it were an absolute and perfectly accurate figure? Anyone who has worked with...

  Finance, Oh Finance Lyrics by Adam Jacobson (with apologies to Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick) Finance, oh Finance I've seen the report. The numbers look bad. We have to talk. After you make an adjustment or three Things will be better - you'll see. Let's start - our sales aren't low. We've signed ten new contracts - didn't you know? And those expenses seem high. They really are capex - I wouldn't lie. Finance, oh Finance we aren't quite through. Though it looks better there's more to do. If you look harder I'm sure that you'll find There's something that's slipped your mind. Now let's talk inventory. You say it's not moving - that's not the whole story. End with professional fees. A one-time restructure - proforma please. Finance, oh Finance we've had our review. I feel much better - I'm sure you do too. The future is bright and my bonus is clear. This wasn't so bad. The Board will be glad. And such a light touch. Why, thank you so much! I can't wait...

"CDS" is Consultant Dependency Syndrome. It's ugly, expensive, and it's usually contracted from a consultant who aims to embed him or herself into your organization like a tick until they become a necessary part of your regular operational procedures. At Red Three we are dedicated to the eradication of CDS wherever we find it. So how do you know if you're infected? If you need the consultant to come back and fix a report every time the data changes, you have CDS. If you can't close the books at month's end without the consultant, you have CDS. If the auditor arrives and you need to call the consultant to explain how the system calculates some key numbers, you have CDS. If, when you ask for training, the consultant says, "We'll make sure to schedule that" and then never does, you have CDS. If you're amazed at the complexity of your system—but...