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Selected Work History, Business Consulting & Writing Case Studies


Many of the following case studies were projects I completed while working for various companies or as an independent contractor at certain times in my career.




Case Study A


The situation:

An online company experienced problems with new users unintentionally skipping the testing forum and signing up to the approved-member forum.


My recommendation:


I advised the online company to hide certain elements of a user dashboard so new users wouldn’t see the forum for the approved-members unless they were granted access.

The outcome:

The client took my advice and new users no longer bypass the initial testing forum before they are approved for the member forum. Client wrote to me in an email, “Thank you for the suggestion. It was a very good one. (Sometime between 2012 and 2014)



Case Study B

The situation:

A company's database needed modification prior to being shared by project members nationally.

Formulas must be protected so project members who open the file won’t alter them.

It was difficult to see the pertinent information among a sea of numbers.

My recommendation:

Make a user-friendly start page that resembles a web page and make important data easy to find, accessible, and graphically enhanced.

 

The outcome:

  

  • The new spreadsheet included links to specific worksheets within the workbook.
  • Audited formulas in Visual Basic. Either corrected errors or recreated formulas. Next, they were tested and debugged prior to deployment. I also used ActiveX controls for website-like buttons to make the page more user friendly.
  • Inserted the company's logo and used corresponding company colors for easy brand recognition and consistency.
  • Made functional changes that included creating macros to activate other macros to decrease repetitive tasks in the development of the spreadsheet. 
  • Password protected cells and links so they would not be altered by end users. (2006)

 



Case Study C

 

The situation:

 

A company requested a conversion of report data to go from rolling averages based on calendar year to an accumulated month’s average based on fiscal year.

 

My recommendation:

 

Keep any parts of formulas that are salvageable, but update them to show an accumulated month’s average based on fiscal year.

 

The outcome:

 

  • Reduced the workbook’s total size of 200 worksheets to 16. The smaller workbook better accommodated the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) so the company can update the workbook much faster. The modification also saved space by removing unneeded worksheets. In addition, users enjoyed faster exits when closing the workbook due to a less congested file size.
  •  Further improved the workbook by giving the option to compare three years of data instead of just two.
  • To make it easier to compare, I added supplemental pivot tables for interactivity. This way, they can view a variety of locations and categories at various angles for further comparison.
  • Added new company locations when requested. For each one, I created the associated charts, new formats, formulas, and audited and debugged macros. The result was increased productivity with ease of use. The new spreadsheet saved space and time. (2006)




Case Study D

 

The situation:

 

A company wanted me to learn data entry software and then create a data entry manual to train a new hire to shorten learning curve and strengthen business continuity efforts. Prior, no manual was in existence for that position.

 

My recommendation:

 

Make the training manual comprehensive enough so that the data entry person would not have to consult with the supervisor to complete tasks.

 

My strategy and the outcome:  

 

  • Used MS Excel and MS Word software to create the manual along with a front and back cover, table of contents, and an index and other helpful items.
  • Put together the six-chapter professional data entry manual from my handwritten notes from instructions while being taught the data entry processes and from hands-on experience putting into action the procedures.
  • Explained major key processes within separate chapters because the data entry process involved four different software programs. Each sub-group had a series of complex actions to follow to complete correctly.
  • Since processing tickets and closing tickets required separate steps, I created the Ticket Processing Log and Closing Ticket Log forms to streamline it.
    • The optional Ticket Processing Log form I designed was used to track tickets processed in 15-minute intervals. It measured productivity and efficiency of the data entry user. The user could challenge previous times and try to increase tickets processed. The form had other uses too. For example, to write down ticket numbers to research later or for jotting down questions or comments.
    • The Closing Ticket Log, also optional, had separate boxes for Monday through Friday and a Recap box. The data entry person can log the various times the closing report was generated and the amount of tickets closed. This prevents overlapping previous closing report times. The form helped save money, as previously, post-it notes were utilized. It was also a handy forecasting tool for management.
  •  The Alphabetical Code Listing Sheet contained assignment codes made searching for the cross-referenced codes easier and faster.
    • The Assignment Code Listing Sheet I created featured colored pages to make it easier to notice and find information.  Previously, the codes were grouped by the first state listed for the region; however, the data entry person was required to input the code by state in the order entry system. This meant that user had to look up the first state at the beginning of the region—not the actual one stated to find the corresponding code. For example, AL-SC-KY stands for Alabama, South Carolina, and Kentucky. So, before the Assignment Code Listing Sheet was available, in order to find the code for Kentucky, the data entry user would have to look under Alabama to get the code for Kentucky because Alabama was the first state listed in that set of three states in that region, hence, the code: AL-SC-KY. In the new listing, the data entry person could also look under Kentucky or South Carolina to find the necessary code AL-SC-KY, no need to look further. This increased productivity.
  • Screenshots of various steps and illustrations were included in the user manual. Now, written explanations about certain processes have a matching visual. The administrator could update the manual updating both illustrations and text on a single page or all pages, if needed.
  •  Each manager now has a spiral-bound master copy and the data entry person has a three ring binder copy for easy identification.
  • The data entry manual helped managers and supervisors reduce training time since the data entry person referred to the manual often for support.
  •  I used the manual as reference and assisted in training new hire. (2006)

 



Case Study E

 

The situation:

 

A company wanted an easier way to track employee performance reviews conducted each month.

 

During my analysis, I noticed the following issues:

 

Twelve separate workbooks with spreadsheets representing the months of the year were used to manage the undone performance reviews. The files took up a lot of computer space.

 

Once a workbook was completed, it was replaced by new ones. Recreating spreadsheets from scratch decreased productivity.

 

It was difficult to search employees by name because sometimes various characters such as a comma would separate the first and last name. It was hard to tell if it was an error or misspelling.

 

My recommendation:

 

Create an interactive Excel spreadsheet database to track the receipt of 90-day and annual performance reviews.

 

The outcome:

 

  • The new single workbook spreadsheet/database contained all 12 months of data and a spreadsheet with the totals to track all received and missing reviews. This saved time by doing away with the need to locate previously created workbooks and spreadsheets. HR can now skip creating a new workbook or spreadsheet each month and copying and pasting formats. My new process also prevented unintentional duplication of pre-existing documents since all worksheets are now located in one workbook. 
  • The new monthly worksheets within the spreadsheet had separate fields for the first and last name of each employee as opposed to one field for first and last name.  This enabled an easier and faster search of an employee by last name, thus improving productivity in the administration process. Other newly added fields include Hire Date, Division, 90-Day Review and Annual Review Due Date.
  •  An Auto-filter was applied to the worksheet for easy sorting by specific fields.
  • Developed a new process for adding data to the spreadsheet: Once a review is received and logged in ADP PayForce, the administrator opens the spreadsheet to “find” an employee by searching for the employee’s last name.  When there are changes such as new hires and resignations, a simple addition or deletion of the employee name is all that is required on the review spreadsheet. This keeps the list freshly updated.
  • The spreadsheet database is expandable so that charts and graphs can be linked to the data at anytime for a real-time review. If or when the database exceeds software limitations, other options may be considered such as: making links to other spreadsheets; converting to Access software or custom software can be created using Oracle. (2006)

 



Case Study F

 

The situation:

 

A college’s employee job descriptions needed to be updated in the college’s HR intranet customized database. It required using the manual data entry method.

 

My recommendation:

 

If it must be entered manually, use helpful forms to streamline and organize tasks.

 

The outcome:

 

  • Updated employee jobs descriptions including the correct job title, department, and responsible hiring party. I used the college’s referencing organizational charts and Datatel, the college’s software to correct data.
  • Created a reference form that listed position code names and their corresponding department and job function name for a faster search.
  • Designed a form to log any issues that prevented updating a description. This way, all issues would be on one sheet instead of several pieces of paper that could easily be misplaced. (2005)



 

Case Study G

 

The situation:

 

A company wanted a customized company directory Excel database to place on its intranet.  It was important that staff administrator be able to update and users would see the most updated version.

 

My recommendation:

 

Create a master file for the administrator to update and a user version file for employees to print out.

 

My strategy and the outcome:

 

  • The master file contained links to the user version file so that the administrator could automatically update it from within the master file without having to open the user version file. The designated data entry person or administrator has exclusive access to the master file, whereas other staff members are granted access to the user version file.
  • The user version file contained links that allowed automatic refreshed upon opening. This eliminated the extra step associated with push button refreshing to retrieve real-time views.
  • Both master file and user files contained password protected locked cells to avoid unauthorized changes.
  • Auto-filters were applied for easy searching.
  • Inserted client’s company logo on the spreadsheet to adhere to branding regulations.
  • Keystrokes were saved when the spreadsheet was updated. The new system did away with duplication entries and therefore reduced errors. There was no need to make the same entry on two different files. (Sometime between 2004 – 2006)

 


 

Case Study H

 

The situation:

 

A company wanted me to modify an Excel spreadsheet file so they could compare policies as they go through the process of a merging with another company. They would decide which policies they wanted to keep and which ones they wanted to remove. In order to do this, they needed the spreadsheet to be easier to read.

 

My recommendation:

 

Reorganize the spreadsheet and put the policies from both companies in chronological order so that they are easier to read and review.

 

The outcome:

 

  • Similar to a website design, I created a “home page" for the list of polices. The spreadsheet contained all of the titles of the policy topics and sub-topics for general reference and command buttons for detailed information.
  • Macros were used to get the page-jumping activity for increased functionality and a more pleasant user experience.
  • Added click buttons/links to make the spreadsheet multidimensional and interactive so users could bring up policy topics instead of having to scroll to find them.
  • Option buttons for each sub-topic allowed the user to select the preferred policy between each company. If neither policy was chosen, a text box was given as an option to write an alternate policy. 
  • When a particular company policy was selected or an alternate text for a policy was written, the selection became a different color.
  • The color was associated with a particular company so that it was easy to identify and track polices from a particular company were selected throughout the process.
  • A fully linked condensed print version automatically updated and streamlined printing. Now, only one spreadsheet needed to be printed instead of many. This saved paper and time.
  • Cells were also password protected to prevent tampering and accidental deletion of formulas and macros. (Sometime between 2004 – 2006)




Case Study I

 

The situation: 

 

The telesales department in a brick and mortar publishing company was spending all day printing out scripts when there was a minor change. During my analysis of the script production, I observed the following:

 

Originally, scripts were printed on 8 ½  x 11-size paper. A script was put together by cutting out text in sections and then pasting them on 11 x 17-size paper. Correction fluid out was applied to cover the visible outline areas where the pieces were pasted on.  If a single correction needed to be made, the entire script had to be adjusted by hand. It was a struggle for scriptwriters to fit the new copy in a predetermined space.

 

When the script was copied for the telesales agents, special care of the original had to be taken as not to lose it or damage it in any way since it had several cut and paste portions of content. This was difficult for telesales script writers to do because the same original would have several changes. The original document with all the pasted pieces became thicker and thicker over time.

 

My recommendation: 


 Purchase a printer that has the capability to print a two-sided, 11 x 17 size paper and they'll be no need to cut and paste when there's a script change.

 

The outcome:

 

  • Created the script in MS PowerPoint where changes can be made directly in the file. This elimiated the need to cut and paste when revisions are required.
  • An original could now be printed for script writers to mark up changes. Next, they would give the marked up script to the administrative assistant for revision, who would then update it in MS PowerPoint and print out an original on 11 x 17 paper, clean, crisp and ready to copy.
  • The time to produce scripts went from eight hours down to two, therefore, I saved a company over 75 percent in production time by revolutionizing the way its telesales department produced scripts.  (Sometime between 1999 – 2003)

 



Case Study J

 

The situation:

 

A company wanted me to redesign its in-house company newsletter which had the format of a letter. The employees were lackluster about reading it.

 

My recommendation:

 

Spice it up with news employees want to know about.

 

My strategy and the outcome:

 

  • Interviewed employees, and then added graphics, photos, articles, and tips. Employee feedback was that they were excited to read every issue hot off the presses.
  • The newsletter increased newsletter readership by 90 percent. (Sometime between 1999 – 2003)



Other work experience – a short list

 

Article writing for clients for online readership (Since 2007)

eBook Author (Since 2014)

Landing page writing for websites (Since 2008)

 

And at various stages throughout my career, some as early as 1987.

 

Business letters (Since 1987)

Phone and email interviewing experience (Since 1987)

Press releases (Since the '90s)

Copyediting (Since 1996)

Internet research (Since 2007)

Keyword selection (Since 2007)

Search engine optimized (SEO) content (Since 2007)

Pay-per-click text advertisements (Since 2013)