Summer 2004 - Copyright 2004 by S. I. Inc.

New Readers of the WORKS

This issue of the WORKS is going out to a wider community. Some of the readers will be getting this newsletter for the first time. It is good to introduce ourselves to these people and remind old time members of the community just why the WORKS is published.

the WORKS is the official newsletter of S. I. Inc. It was published quarterly from 1988 through 1993 when our firm authored a manufacturing package, MCS-3. This was the principal reason for the newsletter´s name. When we sold off the package we stopped publication of the newsletter. The original editions discussed computer applications in manufacturing. Early in 2003 we began a more broadly based edition of the WORKS. The author, Robert Schuldenfrei, has spent the last ten years applying these techniques to marketing. This newsletter will report this work and formulate new concepts.

S. I. Inc. distributes the WORKS to two distinctly different populations. The first group is people with whom I have had contact over the years. Those people know me well so this newsletter is a way to learn what I have been doing recently. The second group is marketing professionals who may not have heard of my firm or me. For those people the WORKS is an introduction to what S. I. Inc. does and what we might do for them.

This newsletter will appear from time to time to support the S. I. Inc. web site where back copies of it reside. Breaking news always appears on the site first. To learn what is taking place at the firm and with the author, Robert Schuldenfrei, just turn to the site: This newsletter is not only to share what I have learned, but also to track the activities of S. I. Inc.

In marketing you are always selling. Can it be that you never heard that before? The principal, perhaps the only, purpose of the WORKS is to let the community know what S. I. Inc. can do for you. With that in mind, every issue of the WORKS will be packed with news you can use. The goal of these stories is to entertain, to enlighten, and to whet the appetite of MarCom firms and industrial organizations as to what S. I. Inc. can do for you.

At S. I. Inc., we practice what we preach. We distribute the WORKS in both electronic and hard copy editions. There is a thirty minute PowerPoint presentation called "This is S. I. Inc." It comes with sound narration and serves as a virtual visit from Bob. Due to size, this recording is on CD. Just send email to and I will make sure that this commercial message is in your hands as soon as possible.

Everything that you see and hear in these materials was produced in-house. That does not mean that we cannot work with professional media shops. It just means that when it comes to the production of high quality marketing materials, we are experts in low cost-no cost techniques.

We produced this newsletter using off the shelf Microsoft products. This copy was set using Word 2003 so that it could be distributed either as a printed document or as an e-mail attachment. This would be done in the case of a request for the WORKS. The electronic distribution was formed as an HTML document and distributed by Outlook 2002 from a database stored in Access 2003.

Seminar Series for Allegiant

It gives me great pleasure to announce that S. I. Inc. will be presenting a new seminar series being given by Allegiant Systems, Inc. These seminars will be of interest to owners and managers of small to medium sized businesses in the suburbs of the Boston metropolitan area. We will begin with three topics during August and September and follow it up with more during the fall. Each of these sessions will begin at 6:00 PM and last roughly an hour. Following the seminar there will be plenty of time to meet my associates and continue the discussion. All of the events will take place in the Allegiant offices in Newton. Light refreshments will be served.

The first program is entitled Customer Relationship Management (CRM), "it´s about people not computers." It will run on Thursday, August 5, 2004. Robert Schuldenfrei will be the principal speaker. We will discuss what CRM is and why it is critically important for smaller enterprises. As the tag line indicates, the focus is on management and not systems, although we will be explaining five programs that help you realize the benefits of CRM. S. I. Inc. has had 30 years of experience delivering value from computer based systems to managements large and small. As readers of the WORKS know we have done a number of CRM engagements.

Three weeks later Michael Kibler, President of Allegiant Systems, will present the second program: Information Technology (IT) Security, "the threats are real and the consequences can be costly." Viruses, worms, spyware, hackers, spam, phishing, browser exploits - the threats are constantly evolving. We will discuss current security issues, how you can mitigate your exposure, how you can limit damage when your defenses are compromised (I intentionally said when, not if), and some steps to take to recover if your computers or networks become seriously impaired. Allegiant has had years of experience preventing disasters and bringing computer systems back from the dead. We can bring the benefits of that experience to you.

For the final program in our first series we will bring Bob back again to discuss your corporate web site. In a program called Web Site Development and Maintenance, "everyone has them, few are good," we will explain how your site can deliver on the promise you had when you first developed the site. This will be held on Tuesday, September 14, 2004. In the course of the hour Bob will explain what your site should do for your firm. We will address when you need professional help and when you can do it yourself. In the latter case, Bob will explain how you can use Microsoft Word, an no other software product, to manage the web site. Yes, if you can type a letter using Word, you can manage your company´s site!

Excel Analysis with SQL Data

Historic data is often a rich source of information that can be productively mined and analyzed by management. There are, however, issues with this approach such that organizations fail to obtain the benefits that might accrue from using historic data. This is a shame because this data is usually free for the taking as a by-product of the firm´s accounting system. Since the founding of S. I. Inc. in 1981, we have been working with companies to help them produce information from existing data sources. In this brief article we will give the reader an overview of how we do it.

The principal reason why management fails to do the analysis is because the accounting data is in a form that most people find very "user hostile." Often this is in a database such as Oracle or SQL Server. The Microsoft spreadsheet, Excel, has some great analytical tools, but if you can not get at the data all effort goes for naught. What follows is an example of what might be called the SAE approach. SAE is the first initials of SQL Server, Access, and Excel. Here is the broad-brush of a problem drawn from Marketing Research. Suppose there is a set of observations locked way in a SQL Server database on attitudes about a town. This dataset also contains data about length of residence in the town and the importance the respondent attaches to weather. Our goal is to build a forecasting model that claims the longer you live in the town and the more importance weather is to you the more favorable your attitude will be towards the town.

The approach will be to use Access to "dip into" the SQL database and pass that information on to Excel. Then we will use Excel to perform a multiple regression (a statistical tool that is built into Excel, but hidden) to construct our model. Since Excel wants to see rows and columns, we need to form that data in Access so as to "please" Excel. This whole process could be automated in Excel (using VBA programming), but for ease of use and explanation, we are going to move the data from package to package on the Windows clipboard. This is the familiar copy and paste operations.

In order to use a SQL Server database, instead of the built-in Jet database native to Access, you create an Access "project." This is practically effortless since all of the tables have been defined when the SQL database was created. The New Project from the Existing Data menu item is executed. The user explains to Access where the SQL database is located and Access does the rest. When the process ends you have tables and relationships that appear to be lodged within Access, although you are directly using them in SQL Server. Often the data you desire is in a single table with the observations being the rows and the variables formed into the columns. If this is not the case you will use an Access query to form the array of rows and columns. Select all of the rows and columns in either the table or the query and copy them to the clipboard.

Now we are ready for the Excel work. Bring up the Excel program as usual. Starting with a blank worksheet, paste the array on to the page. The data will appear on the sheet with the variable names appearing in row one. If Excel was installed with the "Typical" options, the necessary Analysis ToolPak will not be on your system. In that case use the original Office CD (or have someone in Information Technology do it) to load this optional feature. Once loaded Selecting Tools | Data Analysis | Regression will take you to the regression statistical package. Without going into the statistical detail, here is what you do. You give the package the column you want to forecast. That is the dependent variable, or Attitude in our example. Then you point regression to the columns that purport to explain this behavior. These are the independent variables, Length of Residence and Weather Importance. Once you hit the OK button Excel gives the desired results.

Multiple regression is hardly the only sophisticated tool found in Excel. The package is "loaded" with powerful tools for analysis. I have been doing marketing research for years and I have not found a tool I wanted to use that was missing from Excel. With just a little study, you too can drill into your data mine and retrieve high assay gold.

Hospital Quality Control Using Excel

By Patricia Schuldenfrei.

The American public is hearing a great deal about hospital errors and the importance of safe practices in healthcare. As patients who are hospitalized are older, sicker and more fragile than in the past, the chance of a patient having a fall while hospitalized also grows. Using simple statistical software can assist health quality professionals to see the patterns and trends among patient care events and use the data to plan and implement better procedures.

Falls are the leading cause of injury death in persons over 65 years of age and the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury in the older population. Many older people become hospitalized as the result of a fall - for example the fall that causes a fractured hip. However, persons hospitalized for any reason may experience a fall during the hospitalization. These falls sometimes cause injury, further complicating the medical condition, causing further pain and suffering and increasing length of stay.

Knowing the risks and dangers involved, hospitals collect data on each patient fall. Such data is usually gathered via an "incident report" or "patient safety occurrence report". Immediately after the fall, the nurse submits this report with such vital data as the patient name and room number, time and date, and details concerning the fall. Any immediately apparent injury is noted and direct quotations from the patient are included when possible.

The safety occurrence reports from each unit are forwarded to a quality professional who aggregates data from the entire hospital, using the data for analysis of risk and to help plan strategies to reduce falls. In rehabilitative facilities there are often 7 to 12 falls per 1000 patient days. In other words, in a 100 bed facility, it is not unusual to see 30 patient falls per month. In a short period of time, the quality professional has access to volumes of data. The challenge is turning that data into useful information that can be used to implement changes that positively affect patient outcomes.

A commercially available program such as Microsoft Excel can be an invaluable tool for such data analysis. The quality manager can tap a database or enter information about falls into an ongoing Excel spreadsheet. Sorting the data by room number allows a tally of the fall rate per unit. Nursing units with high numbers of falls receive priority on falls prevention education. Sorting by patient name reveals those patients who are repeat fallers. The care team and the patient/family meet to plan specific care to avoid future injury. The pharmacist receives ongoing data about repeat fallers. Review of the medication profile may reveal drug combinations that are placing the patient at higher risk. In these cases, pharmacy contacts the physician to suggest alternative strategies. Sorting the data by time of day sometimes shows that falls are more frequent at change of shift. One current quality initiative at a local hospital is to have nurse aides make rounds in every room during nurse shift change. This practice keeps a trained caregiver visibly present to patients, allows patients to ask for assistance with toileting or bed to chair transfers, and prevents falls.

The combination of valid data, timely data analysis, and interdisciplinary quality review has had positive outcomes. Using this triple tiered approach at a local hospital has led to changes that have reduced the fall rate per 1000 patient days from 7 to 5. There is a reduction in both the frequency and the severity of falls. Patient safety is positively affected and the hospital gains in quality while reducing risk.

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