Well, there's the big question. Over the past few months, what the heck could I have possibly been doing that is more important than blogging?
November & December were really busy at work. Right about the time of my last post, our newest hire had again given notice. Nothing performance related, just a team dynamics issue. So we had to hire again, which took a little wind out of the sails. In the mean time, we were also working through budgets, I took a full week to attend the VMWare 3.5 Install & Configure course and, of course, we had the never ending month ends and year ends thrown in the mix. Couple that with all my daughter's activities, preparing for Christmas and other social events, and there was just no time for blogging through the end of December.
January wasn't much better as far as blogging time. At work we had to blast through the year end, then re-budget everything due to the economic situation. It took us 2 months to do our initial budgets, and we had to pull off an entirely new budget in about 2 Â½ weeks. Oh, and let's not forget that it is also the time of year where we do annual billings for all of our golf and marina memberships. Based on the budgets, we wanted to offer some discounts for early payments, as well as coupons for our other facilities, so that meant creating new systems to deal with it all. The member billings spreadsheet essentially turned into an application of its own that still needs documentation, although it probably won't get it until next year. (I got the big pieces done, but it's the little pieces that worry me.)
As for my personal time, I taught a full day hands-on Introduction to VBA course on January 23rd and, as I always do, wrote all the material from scratch. Included in the material were 11 example files and a 60 page e-Book, and that doesn't even mention the presentation part of it. In all, it was a lot of work to pull together, and I spent most evenings in January on that task. (I'm hoping to release the whole thing for sale on my site in the coming months, but I have a couple of other commitments to get to first.)
The day after the course the family and I flew down to Disneyland for a few days. That was a hoot, but we all came back sick, and have been battling various illnesses. From colds, to infections to nasty noro-viruses, we've have pretty much 3 illnesses each in 4 weeks. Not really all that fun, and it hardly leaves you in the mood to blog about things.
And now February is almost goneâ€¦
The last couple of weeks have been interesting, work wise. Budgets were finalized, and that meant that we needed to rebuild our financial statement set to display numbers using the original budgets (for the client), and revised target budgets for our managers. Needless to say our systems weren't built for that. Fortunately, back in the summer I had built an Access database to hold all of our historical information and had essentially built my own OLAP interface to it. (I used this to pull expected actual into our budgeting spreadsheets.) I was able to quickly add a new budget type, and then re-built all of our financial statements in Excel.
I now have 20 worksheets of reports based on 11 pivot tables. Each worksheet has columns that run up to BF right now, with them conditionally hidden, depending on whom the reports are being printed for. I've even coded it to automatically move the page breaks, as the column counts vary and all reports are fit to 1 page wide by x pages tall. I'm actually fairly proud of what I've built so far, as it already far exceeds the reporting we had only one month ago. And the best part? It's fast. I can refresh the whole set of data from the database, reset all the filters, and recalculate the workbook in under 1 minute. The Property Management System we used natively took almost an hour to generate half as many statements as I have now.
My next focus is going to be on implementing a whole new chart of accounts into what I already have for some of our property development stuff. It won't look like much, but we're talking about creating new departmental income statements, inventory statements and consolidated income statements, and rolling them seamlessly into the existing package. I'm looking forward to that being done, but not so much at the construction of it.
After that, however, things should be interesting. The focus will then turn to dashboard reporting and working on reports that actually give management information, rather than just a standard income statement. THAT should be cool, as I'll be playing around with graphs, Excel 2007's conditional format icon sets, the camera tool and what not, trying to dig up things that matter.
All that work will start mid March, though, as I'll be off most of next week to attend the 2009 Microsoft MVP summit. I'm looking forward to making the trip again this year, and chatting with the Excel crowd. Definitely looking forward to seeing what is in store for Excel 14.
As for blogging, I'm going to try to post a little more, but I'm not going to make any firm promises. I am teaching 3 more courses in the next 3 months, so I'm going to have a lot of work cut out for me trying to get all the material ready. We'll see if I can't say a few things though. Maybe I should be trying to be a little more like Twitter, rather than go on and on like I always seem to do!
Hmmmâ€¦ on a technology noteâ€¦ Does anyone know if it is possible to schedule a blog post in WordPress when you post it to the blog from Microsoft Word? I can publish it as a draft, but that's not really what I'm after.
At any rate, I need to get back to packing now, as I leave for the MVP summit tomorrow.Â