Tuesday, December 05, 2017

So this thing happened today...

I was scheduled for 2 webinars at the same time today.  Voluntarily.  At noon.  Why, you may ask, would I do that?  Well, they were both free and they offered options of receiving the recorded version even if you couldn't attend live so I figured, why not?  What do I have to lose?  Noon rolled around and I logged into both to decide which one I wanted to commit to live (if either of them).  I mean, it's not like I had nothing else to do.  We are in the middle of a quick month-end close due to a board meeting next week.  But I figured if I could learn anything new from either one that might help me or the company I work for, it would be worth giving up an hour of my time.

This is the one that won out:

Digital transformation in Manufacturing - 
leverage analytics to maximize profitability

Sounds like a doozy, doesn't it?  It honestly was.  This was the most helpful free webinar I've ever attended.  Not because it gave me amazing tools to help in doing my job more effectively or increasing efficiencies in the workplace (which it potentially did), but because it fanned a spark of passion in me that has been lying dormant for a while now.  I attended the webinar to learn how Microsoft Power BI could help the startup medical device company I work for make better informed decisions in a timely fashion without hours of labor to input data into multiple spreadsheets and then manually manipulate it into the various outputs in order to answer the questions posed to the various departments.  Phew!  No kidding, that's what we do.  Different departments input the same data into their own spreadsheets on a daily/weekly/monthly basis in order to manipulate it and track it in different ways.  The same data.  Multiple spreadsheets.  And I do mean multiple.  I have 3 spreadsheets alone to track various information on the same items.  Customer service and sales have at least that many also to track some of the same information but for different purposes.

Since I started working there almost two years ago, I thought to myself that there has got to be a better way.  At first I thought, "If I could just learn more tricks about Excel, it would help a lot".  So, I reached out to an Excel expert to help me streamline some formulas in the spreadsheets I was responsible for.  This helped a lot and actually did take hours off of my weekly data processing time.  As an added bonus I became very comfortable with vLookUps and learned about the index function and CountIf formulas in Excel.  However, it did not help with the duplication of efforts among departments.  This is a huge inefficiency to me and I'm all about process improvements!  

For a long time I blamed our current inventory tracking and accounting software (FishBowl and QuickBooks respectively).  I assumed that during our commercialization phase we just outgrew what these programs could provide.  I pushed for a new ERP system.  One system, that could do it all!  All the modules would talk to each other and all the departments would have access to the information they need while the data only had to be entered ONE time and life would be good.  I did research.  I recommended options.  Multiple departments jumped on board.  I scheduled software demos.  I took team notes.  I scheduled more demos.  And finally, we picked the ERP system that would solve all of our problems!  {Cue the angels singing} 

Our team took a final presentation and recommendation to the CFO.  She liked it.  She asked pertinent questions.  She got on board with us.  And, she took it to the CEO and the board of directors.  They all saw the need and the advantages to a more streamlined data system.  It got added to the budget and life would be good.  

But the contract never got signed.  It kept getting pushed out until our next round of financing or until this medical vote got passed or until...  well, you get the point.  In the meantime, the business is still growing.  The data is still accumulating at a steady rate.  And each department is still tracking it using multiple spreadsheets.  I am hopeful that we will sign a purchase contract soon, but whether we do or not, we need to increase efficiencies NOW.  Not nine months from now when we may or may not be ready to flip the switch on a new ERP system. And even when we do flip that switch, we are going to have to get that same information out of a new ERP system and what's going to do that?  Is this new software going to magically solve our information problems?  I think not.  The data may all be housed in one place, but it's still going to need a system to manipulate it into providing the answers each department needs.

So, my never ending quest for streamlined data flow led me to discover Microsoft Power BI.  But what is this program?  What is BI and what does it mean for the startup company I work for?  What does it do exactly?  After a free download and test drive (thank you very much Microsoft!), I saw the potential but I needed a little more guidance.  My curiosity lead me to today's webinar.

Today I heard from Jon Thompson of Blue Margin on utilizing Power BI to increase efficiencies, but more importantly and on a personal level, I learned that I love business intelligence.  I love the concept of taking raw data and turning it into dashboards (slicing and dicing as they say) to show executives, managers, and all employees the real score in the business game they are in.  Mr. Thompson really struck a chord inside me in comparing business information to a game.  Everyone enjoys a good game, right?  You are motivated to do your best to tilt the score in your favor and come out on top.  That's what BI does for business - it's the scoreboard. Data doesn't lie and neither does the score.  BI gives you the play by play analysis you need to make better decisions to increase your odds of winning.  Who doesn't like better odds?

I am so excited to learn even more about this powerful tool!  I get the pleasure of talking with Jon Thompson himself next week to learn more about what Blue Margin can provide to our company and hopefully more about Power BI in general.  In the meantime, I'm going to focus on completing our month end close so I can continue my quest for data efficiency in the workplace and how to quench my newfound thirst to learn all I can about business intelligence and creating scoreboards.

Stay tuned...


P.S.  What a crazy topic to post about for the first time in over 5 years!!  Or is it?

P.P.S.  I promise I will update this page shortly as all of it is completely outdated (except my support of Compassion International).  I just really wanted to get all my thoughts about today's webinar down in print so I could remember what sparked my passion again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas

The subtitle of this book is "Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul".  What a great concept!  I read Lysa Terkeurst's Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food last summer and this is a wonderful companion book to that one.`
Mr. Thomas does a great job in tying our spiritual health in with our physical health and stressing the importance  of both.  Some of my favorite quotes from the book are as follows.
"Our battle is today.  Because of God's grace, yesterday doesn't count.  Because of God's hope, worry about tomorrow is inappropriate.  This moment, this day, this hour, are we being faithful toward God, honoring him with what we eat and don't eat, and taking care of our bodies accordingly?"
"Our holiness does not rest on the shape of our bodies, but on the acceptable sacrifice of Jesus' broken and bruised body.  Losing twenty pounds won't make God love you any more, and gaining twenty pounds won't make him love you any less.  The glorious truth is that our skinny, chubby, overweight, and obese bodies are all "holy and pleasing" to God because of what Christ has done (Romans 12:1)." - I have a hard time accepting this comment, but I know it's all true.
"It's important to know the difference between physical hunger, emotional hunger, intimacy hunger, relational hunger, and any other kind of hunger.  Many, many calories are consumed in response to needs and appetites that have little or nothing to do with physical hunger but rather are consumed in response to appetites that these calories will never touch." - Can I get an "Amen"? :)
"We need a new relationship with food altogether, seeing it as an aspect of life but not the reason for life... we need to remember that our use of food is something that, due to our sinful nature, can imprison us, assault us, and take years off our lives."
"Protecting your health is the same thing as protecting the vehicle through which God wants to change the world."
And my absolute favorite quote from this book that has become my mantra:
"If I'm going to hurt in this fallen world - and everyone of us will - I'd rather hurt and be sore getting in shape than hurt and be sore because my body isn't fit."
There is also a small section in the first chapter titled "Refined Souls" which struck me so much I made "Refine" My One Word for 2012!
 Check out this book and see how it changes your life!
 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One tough woman!

This is a review of the book, "One Call Away" by Brenda Warner

I knew Kurt and Brenda Warner were very faithful people so I was curious to read about Brenda's life experiences. This book did not disappoint! She cuts right to the chase and does not mince words about any aspect of her life. I cannot believe what this woman has been through and to keep her faith through all of it is amazing! 

This was a really eye opening book about life before and during celebrity status. The world sees a rich, confident couple, but we really have no idea what it took to get there and what personal struggles they have gone through. 
I loved how Brenda's family helped her discover nursing as a result of having a special needs child. 
Wonderful, wonderful book. I had a hard time putting it down and actually read the whole thing in 2 days! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dolphin Tale

I've been seeing commercials for a new movie coming out next Friday, September 23rd, called Dolphin Tale.
The cast is amazing and the story looks really good.  It is based on the true story of Winter the dolphin.

There is a really neat story about one of the workers from the movie here and you can check out the official movie site here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Women of Faith Conference

Women of Faith Imagine

Because of my love of Thomas Nelson Publishers and my participation in their Booksneeze program, I was given the opportunity to receive 2 free tickets to a Women of Faith event.  Wow, I was all over that!  I was dancing a jig when I was notified that I would indeed be receiving 2 free tickets to the Women of Faith event in Milwaukee, WI on September 30 - October 1!

If you've never attended a Women of Faith event or never even heard of it before, here's a little video clip:

Doesn't that look great?!?  I had the pleasure of seeing Sandi Patty, Nicole Johnson, Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Luci Swindoll and others in Omaha, NE for the 2008 event.  It was an amazing event!  I've been unable to attend another one up until now and just can't wait.

So I have 2 tickets and a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night, but no one to attend with me.  Do I have any takers out there?  I don't mind going by myself, but it would be a lot of fun with a friend.

Please leave a comment on this post if you are interested in attending this life changing event with me.  If I have more than one person interested I will do a drawing. 

Have you ever been to a Women of Faith event?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  Which one did you go to?  Who were the speakers?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review - "Live Loved" A Devotional by Max Lucado

As I stated in my last post, Max Lucado is one of my favorite authors and this is a new devotional book by him.  I purchased Mr. Lucado's "Grace for the Moment, Vol. 2" for my husband a year ago and liked it so much I got "Live Loved" for myself.  I love how he takes a snipet from his other books and adds a prayer and some bible verses for some quick daily inspiration for the casual reader.  These are not "deep" devotions, but are a great way to start or end your day or provide a short spiritual break during the daily grind. 

There are five sections:
     1. Loved with a Steadfast Love
     2. Loved with a Perfect Love
     3. Loved with a Wise Love
     4. Loved with a Merciful Love
     5. Loved to Love Others

The excerpts are taken from Mr. Lucado's books:  It's Not About Me, Facing Your Giants, 3:16 Numbers of Hope, Every Day Deserves a Chance, Fearless and Outlive Your Life

Overall, great devotional!  9 out of 10

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review - "Max on Life" by Max Lucado

Max Lucado has quickly become one of my favorite authors of all time.  I love that he is a long-time pastor and the books he writes seem to talk right to me.  He doesn't write in big, theological language that I don't understand.  He writes in the language I talk.  Any chance I get to review one of his books, I jump at it.  I actually saw him in person in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at a special event for pastors on his "Outlive Your Life" book and concert tour.  Very nice man.
Anyway, in his book "Max on Life", he publishes the answers to many questions he has received over the years.  I wasn't sure what to expect with this book as it is a different type of book than I usually read.  I shouldn't have doubted.  Some of the questions are funny, some are deeply serious and Mr. Lucado answers all of them with grace.

For example:  #128 Our family is exhausted.  We run from one event to the next.  How do we slow down?  Answer:  Jesus understands  He knew the frenzy of life.  People back-to-backed his calendar with demands.  But he also knew how to step away from the game.  Mr. Lucado goes on with biblical quotes and how to relate them to our busy lives today.

Example 2:  #57 Why is there so much chaos and evil in the world?  It seems that no one cares about what God wants, and humanity is imploding.  Answer:  Sin works proportionately to the number of opportunities it is given.  As communication and technology grow, sin expands with it.  So while the world appears to be spinning out of control, it is only behaving as expected.  He goes on with his answer, but you get the idea.
Overall 8 out of 10

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Amazing Grace

First of all, I am sorry it has been so long since I've blogged.  Life was pretty crazy here for a while as I'm sure you can relate.

As you know my life was pretty much consumed by my job from February 25th (my old boss's last day) until this week.  Our new CFO started on April 4th and has jumped in with both feet.  I am very happy to report that I had zero overtime this week and I am so excited about that!  There was always a part of me that wondered what it would be like to have a bigger career and executive status.  Well, that was a great way to "try it on for size" and I learned a very valuable lesson.  I don't want to be a CFO and I never want my career to come before my family on that level.  I am very happy being a financial accountant and I wouldn't mind being controller, but that's all the higher I want to go on the corporate ladder.  We have a really great team going at work right now and I'm enjoying it.

Enough about work and on to amazing grace.  In the middle of my work issue, my last grandparent passed away on March 20th.  Grandma Krause was 97 amazing years old.  She still lived on her own and was in great health except for extreme macular degeneration in her eyes.  She had a weak heart valve and was a two time breast cancer survivor.  Like I said, amazing.  She was in the hospital that weekend for a pulled muscle in her back.  That's what they were calling it because all her health tests came back great.  She was going to go to a nursing home temporarily for rehab before going back to her apartment.  The nurses found her Sunday morning not breathing.  Her heart just quit.  We'll never know if it really was a heart attack, or if the cancer had come back somewhere, but at 97 years old does it really matter?  She lived a complete, full life and taught her family a lot. 
Great-Grandma Krause, Jenna and Tori

Great-Grandma Krause, Jenna, Uriah & Tori
Thanksgiving 2010
So we had an unscheduled trip to Wisconsin for the first week of spring this year.  It was a whirlwind week.  We helped my sister and husband clean out Grandma's apartment, planned the funeral (although Grandma had most of it planned already) and otherwise just looked at each other wondering what we were going to do without Grandma.  It was really nice spending time with all our family, but it was a hard week.  Grandma's minister had a wonderful funeral service and we enjoyed putting together a picture board of Grandma's life (even though we joked the whole time about how she would hate us doing that as she avoided getting her picture taken at all costs and we even thought she might have had something to do with the foot of snow that fell the day before her funeral).  During the funeral service we sang the hymn "Amazing Grace".  That's when I really broke down.  I sat there crying as everyone else was singing "I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind, but now I see".  I can't even explain how much I'm going to miss her. 

Flash forward to a week later at our ecumenical lenton service held at the methodist church in town.  We've been doing a bible study during lent about the blessing of the cross.  That week we talked about the blessings of blindness.  At the close of the service we sang "Amazing Grace", stood in a circle and lit candles.  It really struck me that I was singing "Amazing Grace" twice in one week under two very different circumstances.  Isn't God's grace truly amazing?

May you have a blessed Easter season!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A winner, a scholarship chance and a new book!

So sorry I didn't post on Sunday like I said I would, but time is just getting away from me.
I loved both comments about favorite bible verses, thank you Amy and Monica!!  I have chosen Amy to win the NLT Life Application Study Bible.  Congratulations!!  Amy, you were one of the first people I ever knew outside of my family.  We were best friends growing up and then went our separate ways.  Re-connecting with you through Facebook has been a real blessing to me.  I hope you enjoy your new bible!!  Please send me your mailing address through a private message on facebook or to beckster1024@hotmail.com.

I read an exciting post yesterday on Lysa Terkeurst's blog.  Have any of you heard of the She Speaks Conference?  It's an annual conference put on in beautiful Concord, North Carolina by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I only recently learned about this conference, but from everything I read it sounds wonderful!  There are three different tracks for the conference:  a speaker's track, a writer's track and a women's ministry track.  I have been struggling with my call recently.  I have felt a "tug" to do something more, but have no idea what.  The She Speaks Conference looks like the perfect place to explore our "tugs".  Lysa Terkeurst is giving away a scholarship to this conference!  You can read all about it here.  Check it out and maybe I'll see you there someday! :)

Guess what I received in the mail today?  You're right, a new book to review!!  I just received "Lazarus Awakening" by Joanna Weaver to review for Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House.  It's my first book from Random House and I'm very excited.  My book group friends and I are reading Joanna Weaver's first book, "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World".  I've really enjoyed the study and can't wait to dive into "Lazarus"!  Anyone interested in doing an online book study on "Lazarus Awakening"?  It includes a 10-week bible study.  I'd love to read it with you!  Leave a comment here if you would like to participate.

Happy Tuesday everyone!!!  Have a blessed week!