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BI Publisher Provides Our Organization Extreme Agility

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

A year and a half ago, our company embarked on a project to run Oracle E-business R12. Part of that process included a manufacturing migration from our legacy systems, and the other part included a migration of financial modules from Oracle 11i.  Included in the 11i financial modules was Accounts Payable, thus our Payment process needed to be migrated to R12.  One of my responsibilities was to create the payment output for the R12 system.  Payments in Oracle R12 are rendered with BI Publisher, an Oracle tool I became very skilled with while working on the AP project.  Although limited, BI Publisher has to be one of the most powerful technologies Oracle provides and has allowed our IT organization to become more agile.

From what I heard, it took the previous business analyst two years to get a check printed in the 11i production system, starting at the beginning of that project.  The R12 Payment processing seemed like a daunting task.  But I was up for the challenge and eager to enhance my skill set.

Within the first day of working on the payment output, I was able to get a check printed out of our test system.  Two weeks later I had a check ready to send to our bank for validation.

Although my manager was impressed, he still had some doubts. I have a feeling he was thinking around the lines of, “this is too good to be true; how can someone get a check ready for approval so fast, when took so long previously?” Whatever his thinking was, the bank validation had the ability to halt my swift progress right in its tracks.

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Support of Lakeview Wal-Mart Convenient Store Concept

March 21, 2011 3 comments

I wrote the following letter to my Alderman  Tom Tunney today.

Mr. Tunney,

My name is Ed Hayes, and I am a constituent of yours.  As a fellow member of the LGBT community, I appreciate your support of all LGBT issues.  I am also a frequent customer of your Ann Sather restaurants which I am proud to have in Lakeview.

With that said, I live at 519 W Melrose and fully support Wal-Mart entering Lakeview with its new convenient store concept.

Lakeview has had a grocery store deficit for many years since the Dominic’s burned down in 2005.  With the project to rebuild Dominic’s apparently dead, I see no reason prevent Wal-Mart from entering the area. Especially if they are planning a convenient store which does not require a parking lot.  The Lakeview long term plan designates Broadway as being a pedestrian street.  A Convenient store like Wal-Mart would conform to that more than the previously planned Dominic’s with parking lot, and more than the Trader Joe’s currently being constructed with a parking garage.

None of the products sold by local small businesses/boutiques would be in competition with Wal-Mart’s convenient store concept.  The only competition to Wal-Mart’s store are the current grocery store offerings.  The current grocery stores closest to the planned Wal-Mart lcoation (Dominic’s, Jewel, Whole Foods, Treasure Island, and Market Place) have prices much higher than Wal-Mart’s expected prices. If/when Wal-Mart enters the market, consumers will pay less on their every day groceries, giving them more buying power for local restaurants and boutiques.  That means Wal-Mart would actually help local businesses.  Furthermore, Wal-Mart would increase foot traffic along Broadway and Clark; foot traffic that could only help other local businesses.  And as I mentioned before, is already part of the long term Lakeview plan.

Accusing Wal-Mart of having poor labor relations is completely unfair.  Wal-Mart has arguably better labor relations than many other local grocers and businesses.  If Wal-Mart’s labor relations are as bad as people claim they are, nobody will want to work there, and the store will never open.  Never the less, the unemployment rate in Chicago is quite high, and adding potential jobs is important to everybody in the city.  I don’t see any point on blocking any employer from creating much needed jobs.

The recent news to rezone the storefront which Wal-Mart plans to lease is outrageous.  I am fairly certain that many other retailers on the same corner as the potential Wal-Mart have just as large of a footprint as Wal-Mart plans to have, if not larger! I don’t know their exact square footages, but Borders, TJ Maxx, World Market, and Bed Bath and Beyond are all quite large.

Trader Joe’s is coming soon; why are they getting any special treatment?  They are just as much a national chain and arguably more specialized than Wal-Mart. Trader Joe’s will provide more of a threat to local businesses than Wal-Mart ever will. If the goal is to save local businesses, why was Trader Joe’s allowed to build a store?

The building Wal-Mart plans to occupy currently has three empty storefronts.  Borders is about to provide another open storefront very close by.  And, there are countless smaller storefronts in the neighborhood which are also empty.  If a company like Wal-Mart is planning to improve and occupy two of those empty storefronts, it is preposterous to block them.

The only argument I would agree with against Wal-Mart is that it is a national chain, and our neighborhood would be better off with local small businesses.  But if National chains are so bad, why are so many other National chains already allowed to be in the area?  Walgreens, CVS, Panera, Starbucks, Hair Cuttery, Best Buy, Chipotle, TJ Maxx; I could go on and on.  Any argument against Wal-Mart must also be applied to other retailer.

If the argument was against a Applebee’s, I would be in complete agreement with you.  However, this argument is over a store which sells the same exact products as Dominic’s, Jewel, and Treasure Island.  However, Wal-Mart has a superior supply chain which allows them to sell their goods at drastically lower prices.  Personally, I prefer to pay as little as possible for commodities such groceries.  Milk or flour is the same no matter where it is purchased.  Why pay more just because a store is “local”.  A “local” grocer that sells flour provides no benefit over a national flour retailer.  When it comes to restaurants and clothing, I am willing to pay more for unique and higher quality offerings offered by local businesses.

Please reconsider your decision to attempt to block Wal-Mart from entering our community.  I would gladly discuss this with you further if given the chance.

Regards,
Ed Hayes

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Open Letter: Chicago Bagel Authority (CBA)

January 17, 2011 4 comments

I first came to the Chicago Bagel Authority (CBA) because of a Groupon.  I loved the place!  The food was great, and the staff was friendly.  I was left with an extremely positive perception of the CBA.

Saturday, I returned with a few friends of mine.  I was excited to show them what the CBA was all about.  Although, when I tried to use the second and last Groupon I had purchased, I was unable to use it. I was told I could not use a Groupon on the weekend. Concerned, I looked at the terms and conditions of the Groupon and could not find wording which indicated the Groupon could not be used on the weekend, or wording that would allow the terms to be changed post-purchase.

I asked to speak to a manager and was told he was not in. I then asked to speak to the manager-on-duty; I was told there was not one and that every employee was a manager of the co-op.

My positive perception of the CBA quickly changed.  The customer behind me in line also came to use his Groupon.  He decided to leave; not paying for the food he had ordered.  Trying not to ruin my fiends experience I decided to stay and paid cash.

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Aldi Takes Customer Service to the Next Level

August 21, 2010 9 comments

For quite some time now, I have been a deal hunter.  I’m cheap.  I love deals.  And thus, Aldi, a value oriented grocery store, has become a staple in my life.  Aldi’s strategy is quite simple; offer a low variate of store brand products at a small no frills store.

If you want a cart, you have to deposit a quarter to borrow  it (you get the quarter back when you return the cart). Want a bag?  It will cost you $0.15.

With all this attention to cost cutting, you would think they would also skimp on customer service. That is not case. I recently communicated with Aldi about a change in their Bran Flakes recipe, and I have been amazed at the level of service I have received.

The Bran Flakes I used to buy from Aldi were outstanding. And at $1.59 a box, you couldn’t find a better deal, even if your life depended on it.  However, the manufacturer of the cereal recently changed the recipe they use to produce the product, and I was not impressed with the change.  I still eat the Bran Flakes, but I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to.

I thought I would express my dissatisfaction with the recipe change to Aldi via their website.

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MarketWatch: Foxconn’s troubles expose China’s woes

July 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I read an article written by John C. Dvorak posted on MarketWatch about Foxconn;  I thought it was quite interesting and worth a read.

From what friends have told me and from most reports it is “essentially a steel mill on one end and computers come out of the other end.”

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Your Business Process Should Make Sense

June 3, 2010 1 comment

The other day I was at CostCo and realized they were scanning a barcode, that was affixed to the cash register, during each and every transaction.  I inquired into what the purpose was.  The cashier told me the barcode was scanned to verify they checked the bottom of the cart to make sure all products was scanned.

It turns out CostCo has a major problem; items in the bottom of the cart are frequently not scanned before  customers leave the store. The cashier told me that they repeatedly discuss this problem in team meetings.  I would agree that this problem could be very costly, and that it would be a significantly larger problem at CostCo compared to most other stores since there are so many large heavy items for sale at CostCo.

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Online Shipping; The Pain it Shouldn’t Be!

April 26, 2010 1 comment

Last Saturday I was trying to print a simple postage label for a package I wanted to ship.  All I wanted was a shipping label.  I thought it would take me five minutes at USPS.com, but it turns out a pot-roast cooks in less time that it takes to print a shipping label!  After using their sites, I have come to the conclusion that the United States Postal Service (USPS) and United Parcel Service (UPS) go through very little, if any, user acceptance testing.  FedEx isn’t much better; I did get a label in 10 minutes, but their rates are significantly higher than I was willing to pay.  Here are the pains I felt while navigating though the websites of the three major United States shippers.

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