Recently the company that I work for made a request to change the focus and name of the Information Technology department. The focus of the department is no longer on Infrastructure but broken down further into Infrastructure and Decision Support or the buzz word out there “Business Intelligence”. Now, we call the department, “Information & Decision Support”.
By better understanding your business processes, business strategy and challenges, your “IT” department can better serve the business by delivering solutions that meet these specific requirements. If your “IT” department doesn’t get the “big picture” you will be delivering solutions and great ideas that no one needs.
Looks like the content of the site is going to be changing a bit. Recently, I have been asked to serve in an Information Technology capacity rather than Accounting. If you read through my posts you will see that I was getting into the technology aspect of accounting more than accounting itself. I found myself leveraging technology to do my job better and the company feels that I will have the ability to do this company wide. Next big subject that I will be writing about is Business Intelligence (BI). My task is do implement a Business Intelligence system into the company. My first step is heading back to school at Louisiana State University to learn a little computer programming.
If you go back and look through my posts, I often write about my work in automating the financial statements. Well, I am completely done with this project and I used it to prepare the statements for Q1 – now it is only 5 days from the end of the quarter and I have a draft of the statement ready to go. I have to give it a few weeks to allow for more cost and billings to post, but once that is done all I have to do is click the “Refresh” button to pull in the new data. I have substantially decreased the time it takes to prepare the financials for a >$200 million construction company – I have to say that I am hearing that small voice inside that lets you know that you have done your best.
In addition to increasing the efficiency on the accounting end, I have recently completed another excel project. At my company, the Project Managers use a cost variance report to make monthly projections on their projects. Typically, a PM will have to print the report out and manually make calculations and markup the report with projections. Now, a PM has the ability to pull project budget and cost data into Excel and make projections electronically. This is made possible through an Excel Add-in for Sage Timberline called “Office Connector”. This just puts a nice interface in front of the ODBC driver capabilities. I am currently experimenting more with Office Connector so hopefully I will have more reports to share!
It has been a while since I posted anything – the last few weeks have been very busy. Not only am I alive and doing well, but so are the projects I am working on. The first quarter financials for 2011 using the new excel financial statement builder have been issued and the excel worksheet is working great. I have already begun preparing next quarter’s report. Looking at the success so far, it looks like I will be able to have quarterly financials prepared less than a week after the quarter ends. This is going to give me more time to focus on other areas. I am currently looking for a topic to begin writing an article to submit to the CFMA’s (Construction Financial Management Association) “Building Profits” magazine. Anyone have any suggestions????
Finally! It has been a long journey, but I have completed my undergraduate studies in Business Management from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Now, my next objective is to take a few courses to obtain a Bachelor’s in Accounting as well, then on to further education. One of my favorite quotes of Sam Walton is “You can’t just keep doing what works one time, because everything around you is always changing. To succeed, you have to stay out in front of that change.” This is very true and so important and this ties into education because the world IS constantly changing and education is the best way to stay in front of that change. My goal throughout my career is to continuously learn new things so that I can continuously make a difference.
When I was about 14 years old, I started playing around with Microsoft Excel 97. I was amazed with it’s functionality – the next year when I started my first job, I began making spreadsheets to forecast my earnings over the next 12 months based on average hours worked (I still have these spreadsheets to this day). Now, I am utilizing Excel on a much higher level. As explained in my last posting, I am working towards creating a “module” within Microsoft Excel 2010 using ODBC technology. What I have learned is that if there is data, you can import it into Excel and make it sing and dance. In many accounting processes, data from a subsidiary ledger is being used to create reports, to calculate accruals and to be reconciled to a General Ledger. I would urge any accountant out there to stop printing out details of these transactions and find a way to use Excel to link to the data source. This way you can setup recurring Journal Entries, Reconciliations, Allocations, and Accruals – making Excel your own personal assistant.
What would the world look like if we didn’t constantly learn from mistakes? I can definitely say that I have made many mistakes – but I have learned from them. I learned the lesson very early in my career that you must always be looking for ways to improve because there is always an opportunity to take good and make it great! The key here is that when you do make a mistake or turn something in that isn’t quite perfect – Do Not Get Discouraged and Keep Moving Forward.
After spending some quality time working as a Project Cost Accountant, I moved forward to my current position as an Accountant. I am currently responsible for book keeping, preparation of financial statements, as well as communicating key financial statistics each week to the organzation through financial dashboards that focus on areas such as labor cost and investment activity. I began working in this area about 1 year ago and it has been a blast. During that year I discovered something that I could implement that would streamline the financial reporting process. Within Microsoft Excel, I used the ODBC driver to access the accounting software database and pull that data in to create real time “dashboards” to send to key people in the company. This idea grew as I discovered more and more things to do with it. My latest project is the automation of the financial statements. I have transformed an excel spreadsheet to work like a webpage – I accomplished this by utilizing macros. A user can click a button on the home page to navigate to an area of the spreadsheet rather than using tabs. The user also has the ability to refresh the data so that he or she can know in real time the financial condition of the organization.
As I continued to learn more and more about construction I learned even more about LEADERSHIP. In high school I was very active in the National FFA Organization (www.ffa.org) and I was very inspired by their mission statement: The National FFA Organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.
The FFA is where I learned how to confidently speak in front of a large group of people and where I experienced the results of effective teamwork. My experience in the construction industry took everything to the next level, teaching me that true leadership is defined by how well you serve others. The book pictured above teaches timeless principles of servant leadership. If you haven’t read this book before please take the time and do so – it will take you on a journey and build the foundation for your development as a leader.