I’ve worked in IT for about a decade, most of that time serving the needs of one of the most incredible and high-performing Grocery Store Co-ops in the USA. If you’ve never explored the cooperative incorporation model, here is a decent start

As IT Manager, I was honored to be in a position that required constant attention to change as the business rapidly grew. Change for our staff, our vendors, and of course our customers. I started at the boom of the iPhone when ‘smartphones’ were just called ‘blackberries’. People were just starting to expect that information should be always accessible, and not relegated to an office or desk. We used “cloud” services before it was common, leveraging an MSP that provided a Citrix-based platform, and it allowed us the flexible and rapid expansion we needed.

But what drew me into the IT realm wasn’t so much prospect of getting to work on technology, as it was the prospect of getting to work with data. We were in the early stages of using a data warehouse to build reports from SSRS, pulling in data from ADP and our POS to have quick access to sales vs labor number, and quickly adjust budgets if need be. With a period of turbulent expansion, our GM was keenly aware that cash flow could become critical, despite the well-funded capital assets. And in retail, the biggest expenses that can quickly eat up case are labor dollars, and inventory.

So, a couple of my initial projects when I first signed on as IT Manager were expanding upon the ability to report on labor quickly, but also use that data for projecting out budgets based on past trends, as a starting point. Often, budgeting can feel like a shot in the dark if the data isn’t easy to use. Another project that came about directly after our first expansion, was an interesting internal web all for analyzing purchase levels and comparing it to past margins. This helped our buyers and managers keep an eye on the ratio of purchases to sales, and make sure we weren’t filling our brand new space with too much product.

These early projects and the lessons in why data can be so critical to success have stuck with me over the years. I like to make work count and use the systems and data around them to help us answer questions, relieve pain points, and make work more fulfilling for people that can make great decisions.

Note: If you happened upon this site looking for music, because that’s a thing I used to do, please feel free to send me an email, and I’ll send you some links. I think you can find a few old songs on Spotify and Apple Music, if that suits you.