While communication between people is paramount, I’d like to bring up how good communication between our systems is also a major foundation of the way we work here at Maxons. As the resident Data Analyst, my ears perk up at opportunities to make our work flow more smoothly and efficiently by making sure different parts of the company communicate with each other in a systematic way, in person or in the cloud.
Some of you know that when I first came to Maxons, sales commissions were calculated quarterly, by hand, on infamous pads of yellow lined paper. It was a painstaking, time consuming, and error prone process that took at least a week every time. Why? It was the way we’d always done it. But also because the two kinds of information we needed to calculate commissions- job profitability and sales by account manager – literally can’t communicate with each other in our accounting software. The software just isn’t set up that way. It’s impossible to merge the two inside of the software, so pen and paper it had to be.
Well, I always knew there was a better way. Although our contact management system is the backbone of our IT system, it doesn’t begin cover all of our needs. Thanks to many hours logged in over the years on the part of our intrepid programmer Mark Iocolano, our CMS “talks” to Eye of the Storm, the finance software, and our equipment tracking software on a regular basis.
So I admit that it came out of my own frustration that I buckled down one day and mapped out how the data from four different spreadsheets that previously could not communicate with each other needed to come together to become something useful to us in figuring sales commissions. Mark Iocolano did the programming and gave us a way to merge the four reports into one (this is what Cindy, our AR Manager, calls “the martini shaker”). I set up Excel templates with formulas and conditional formatting to plop my newly merged data into, and semi-automate the arithmetic involved.
The end result: figuring monthly commissions still takes some time and effort. But now it takes just a few hours each month instead a week to put together the initial commission reports. And I’m proud of the fact that my re-vamping of the commission process saves us all time, errors, and most of all frustration.
Communication is key – even when it’s behind the scenes!
~Shana Norberg, Data Analyst