Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 12:11 pm on
In evaluating a business process, there are a variety of ways to look at the events, timing, staffing, locations and costs to provide management with decision-making information. Since no two companies have the same needs, the relative importance of the processes will vary. For this reason, one company may be focusing on inventory while another will be looking at production. The following list of examples are not meant to provide the reader with solutions, but instead are offered to stimulate thought and ideas:

  1. Each day or shift, compare the production, labor hours and material costs on each line or work station to a pro-rated standard.
  2. Total the production for that day or shift and compare that to a weighted standard.
  3. Segregate and compare the results by areas of responsibility and compare worker to worker.
  4. Segregate and compare the results by line or work station and determine relative efficiency and utilization.
  5. Segregate and compare the results by customer to determine who are the "tough ones."
  6. Summarize and compare the results by job type to see which types consistently perform below expectation and where prices can be reduced to increase market share.

On a monthly basis, segregate, summarize and analyze rejects and re-works by:
  1. Cost
  2. Category
  3. Customer
  4. Product
  5. Work station or production line
  6. Responsible worker(s)

On a weekly basis, categorize, present and analyze projects by:
  1. Responsibility
  2. Priority
  3. Length of time since initial assignment
  4. Cost

On a weekly basis, summarize and analyze inventory and reworks by:
  1. Cost
  2. Age
  3. Loss
  4. Space consumed

On a weekly basis, categorize, summarize and generate plant and equipment maintenance task sheets based upon appropriate timing intervals. Track completion and generate progress reports to responsible individuals and key managers.

Sales & Orders
On a daily basis, track open balances on all orders by customer and/or product. Determine backlog and generate staffing projections. Determine where and when timing conflicts will occur. Distribute reports to responsible individuals and key managers.
On weekly basis, track and summarize sales by customer, product category and salesperson. Compare results to prior periods to determine trends that might affect capacity and staffing. Distribute reports to responsible individuals and key managers.

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Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 6:57 am on

People ask "What’s the difference?"


  • Faster & easier to prepare
  • Within the scope of an average PC user to prepare simple reports
  • Good for one shot projects
  • Easier to generate graphs


  • Can hold a very large number of records allowing for a history
  • Highly suited to analysis providing detailed reports
  • Suited to both arithmetic and text storage
  • Easy segregation of records based on detailed find & sort criteria
  • Easier to share (Multiple users at the same time)
  • Relational allowing one database to share the information with another
  • Significantly less hard drive space and RAM for the same amount of information

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Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 5:15 am on
While there are a number of ways to describe a database, the following definition is suited to the type of databases we use at Performance Data Management LLC.

A database consists of a group of records. For each record a series of fields are defined that create a place to store and classify key data. Each record represents a collection of information concerning an event or series of events. Records are stored in a computer in such a way so that the database program can selectively retrieve and sort the data to provide information that can be used to make decisions. While the data that is actually entered in a record may involve only a small number of fields, there may be hundreds of other fields that can include mathematical calculations and summaries that can serve as analysis points.
Defined fields can be classified as follows:
  • Text (names & places)
  • Number (values that might be used in calculations or totals)
  • Date (can be used in calculations)
  • Time (can be used in calculations)
  • Timestamp (combination of date and time - typically used at the initial point of record entry or at the point of modification to pinpoint a precise date and time).
  • Container (Videos, photos, sounds, spreadsheets, text files which are stand-alone and do not react with the program in anyway).
  • Summary (can produce totals, subtotals, averages based on the found records and how it is displayed on the layout).
Data files can be set up to interrelate with other files. This can be done to expand the knowledge base and/or minimize the need to enter repetitive data. For instance, entering a customer code number in one file can query a related file and automatically enter the customer name, address, phone, etc into the first file.

Layouts are set up to serve as a point of entry, a place to view the record and/or generate a written report. Layouts might have summaries and sub-summaries and can include or exclude any field that has been defined. For people to read and benefit from the resulting reports, layouts should be neat and orderly containing only the information that is needed. Reports should be designed and presented in a way that is simple and direct. Aesthetics are highly instrumental in producing effective reports.

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Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 6:00 am on
In smaller businesses, the periodic financial statement is often the only tool for measuring performance. Accountants come in monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually and prepare a statement that tells management one of the following:
  • Things were OK
  • Things were HORRIBLE
  • Things were GREAT
Sadly, the information is dated and the details as to why things happened as they did are cloudy and difficult to interpret. Furthermore, it does not offer conclusive clues as to what to change nor does it provide any glimpse as to trends or future performance.

Fortunately there is an alternative. There are 8 basic steps to performance improvement:
  1. Decide which events impact the bottom line;
  2. Arrive at an achievable and quantitative standard for each event that separates good from bad;
  3. Measure the performance against the standard as close to the occurence of the event as possible;
  4. Prepare timely reports that present the results in way that is easy to understand;
  5. Present the reports on a regular basis to all who have an impact on the result;
  6. Meet with those responsible on a regular basis and encourage feedback;
  7. Insist on accountability; and
  8. Reward favorable results.

Following these steps WILL improve your bottom line!

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Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 12:51 pm on
Most of my career accomplishments are attributable to the dedication and efforts of the thousands of people whom I have had the privilege to lead. While the commandments are simple, they require practice and personal discipline.
  1. Treat all people with respect and dignity at all times.
  2. Avoid foul language and disparaging comments.
  3. Never play favorites.
  4. Seek opinions and welcome feedback.
  5. Give credit where credit is due and remember that a word of encouragement or a pat on the back goes a long way.
  6. Hide your personal problems and learn to smile - workers take their cue from the boss.
  7. Learn to listen.
  8. Meet your workers on their turf and avoid office meetings if at all possible.
  9. Know your workers and learn a little about them personally to create common ground.
  10. No matter how busy you are, always make time for your people.
  11. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest and say so.
  12. If you promise to get an answer for a worker, make sure you follow through.
  13. Support your workers openly to your peers and your superiors.
  14. Lead by example and set the pace for others.
  15. Avoid fraternizing with your workers.
  16. Never be one of the workers yourself, except in select circumstances.
  17. Be known as the person to provide your workers with the tools and resources needed to do their jobs.
  18. Make sure your objectives and instructions are clear and doable providing both written and oral formats.
  19. Don’t be afraid to counsel workers who fail to perform or follow the rules.
  20. Insist that your subordinate supervisors follow these commandments!

The results are guaranteed!

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Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 2:12 pm on

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work alongside some great people who taught me my business and leadership skills. What I have learned from them has led to a lifetime of accomplishments and successes. I am happy to pass along some of my passion, stories, thoughts and observations on issues that might be of interest to small to mid-size businesses. My background in operations includes:

  • Multiple Site Management
  • Team Building
  • Quality Assurance
  • Negotiation
  • Engineering Management
  • Business Development
  • Cost Accounting
  • International Experience

On July 16, 2007, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! was featured in an interview with Kelly Heyboer of the Star Ledger. As the interview states I enjoy analysis, writing and teaching. If I can help just one company address a situation and improve performance, I will consider this effort a success.


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