Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop - SNOW!

Hi friends,

Today is Papertrey Ink's blog hop.  this is a fun opportunity to ink up some of my many Papertrey Ink stamps and get creative with their theme.  For some reason I was really stumped by this theme. SNOW.  I have lots of stamps with snow elements, but very few actual snow images.

So I did the best I could.

Below are two creations I made for the hop.

The first is a berry and greenery image with snow lacing the edges.  I love the clean and simple nature of this but when I finished I didn't feel this was very snowy so I decided to make another.

 My second creation is using the ice skate image with snowflake patterned paper.  This has a home style feel with the red and green. Again, not too snowy, but fun non the same.
I'm so excited about having a few days off for the American Thanksgiving Holiday.  I'm off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and besides cooking and getting started on my Christmas cards, I have very few plans.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hope your day is full of fun SSSC244

Hi friends,

Just a quick post to show you a fun card I made last night for a fun-loving friend.  This card uses the sweet sunday sketch from Karen Giron.

The sketch is below:
On Karen's blog are some really gorgeous cards using the sketch.  Click below to check them out or for details on how you can submit your card using this sketch to her blog.

Oh and in case you are wondering how our project launch is going, it's going really well.  We are SUPER busy with support - lots of questions from the users about 'how to' but really only a few bugs and the tech team is resolving them quickly.  Of all the major project software launches I've been part of, this is the biggest and smoothest launch of all.

I had the overnight shift for the first day and two 6am-9am shifts this week.  I felt like an ER triage nurse trying to get through all the questions and prioritize them and get the critical ones off the tech team.  It's hard work - especially when dealing with people where English is not their first language, 

Yesterday they had a nice (but short) lunch where the project sponsors came in and said some nice words about how proud they were of us and what a great job we were doing.  It was nice.

We took another team picture.  Here you go...

The team in front of our corporate office
Fist pumps to celebrate a success
The true superstars of the team - Will, Petr and Anthony - Brilliant Tech Guys
Well, off to walk the dogs and then into the office.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Vendavo Launch

Well today was the day.  For the past 14 months I have been totally focused on a large initiative at work.  I work in corporate pricing and our group develops processes and systems to ensure that all pricing for our products are processed, approved and executed correctly. So anytime a customer wants to buy one of our parts and needs a price, that falls into our domain.  We don't respond to the price requests (that's done by a group of 100 various users throughout sales and marketing) but my group does ensure that the price requests go through the correct approval process and are loaded into our order management system so we can ensure pricing integrity.

Okay, so now you know what my group is all about, so let me tell you about this project.  We want to take our pricing to the next level - best in class. We engaged with a top software vendor - Vendavo and spent some big bucks to buy the software and engaged a consulting team to help us customize the software for our processes.  Our configuration was quite intense, even by Vendavo standards.  I work in high tech and high tech solutions always require a lot of customization because of the complexity of the business selling environment.  If you see me sometime and want to be bored out of your mind, ask me about ship and debit, registrations or EMS.

So in September of 2013 we began the project and today November 9, 2014 we launched the system. We have a total of 230 users. For about 1/2 the users they access the system a few times a week and it will be a minor impact to their workday.  But for 101 users, this system means that everything they have done for the last 10 years, has been completely replaced by a new system.  They spend most of their day in this quoting system and today, the old is gone and the new is here.  We really needed to ensure they were very familiar with the new system and business process.  We don't want a customer to ask for a quote and want to buy product and the person helping them is unable to do that.  So it was a very high visibility project from our senior mgmt team.

Of course they put the best people on the project!  Below is a photo of the team.  This includes 4 IT people & 4 business people from our company, 3 full-time consultants from Vendavo and 12 subject matter experts from various areas of the business.  My how thin and well rested we looked before the project started.  That's me smiling in the front with the pretty teal green top and black pencil skirt (both are in the back of the closet today, hoping that sometime soon I can fit into them again!) Oh and that kid I was telling you about yesterday - the one who is leaving our group - that's him on the edge in the white button down shirt. My boss is the tall guy in the center back. You can barely see his head!  And the girl who went on the road with me training is standing next to me in the blue dress.

I was the business analyst and training lead.  As the business analyst I worked with many different subject matter experts (and others on the core team) to define all the requirements for what we needed the new system to do. As the training lead I developed all the documentation, lead the development of the on-line training courses, developed the content and conducted most of the hands-on regional training sessions, coordinated the local workshops and monitored the certification testing for the 101 all day, every day users.  For the training, we produced the following:

One 303 page user guide
One 46 page handbook
Six 7 page Quick Look Guides
Six e-Learning Courses

Below is a photo of our 303 page guide.

I lead most of the training thus all my travel this summer.   I visited 4 international cities - Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai and Munich.  Typically we held 2 or 3 sessions in each city with between 8-15 users at each session. I hosted countless web-ex's and sent endless e-mails communicating with the users and the subject matter experts about training content and requirements.

Below are a few photos from our regional training classes.
Above: Training in Taiwan just a few hours before the Typhoon arrived.
Training in Tokyo.  Notice the skyline of Tokyo Bay in the background!

The theme at all our trainings
After training in Munich!  That was the SMALLEST size you could get!
 Workshop in Norwood Ma
Training in Norwood

And now, we are LIVE with our new system.   It's a huge milestone for our team.  Below is a photo of our launch.  Most of the team came into the office at 4:30pm to do final verification and send the e-mail with the new link to access the new system.  Keep in mind that for Asia and Japan, Monday morning starts for them as Sunday evening begins for us.  We wanted the new system available for all regions at the start of work Monday morning, thus the Sunday evening 'official launch.'
Vendavo corporate color is Green, thus the decorations
Mayur set up the food
Praveen came in from Chicago, Peter came in from Czech Republic
Chris dialing into the webex
The e-mail to the users saying 'we are live.'
Rich getting the mail ready to send
Jen and I.

Will, Anthony and Vinay on the webex video
Getting ready to hit send on the email

All hands in when we hit SEND 3.2.1.go
As we hit send on the e-mail to all users, we popped a few corks and celebrated.  We still have a TON of work to do to support the users and fix unexpected bugs, but today was a HUGE milestone for our project.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

another goodbye card...

One of my co-workers recently got a promotion and starting next week, will be sitting at his new cubicle downstairs.   He is really a great kid.  One of the millennials that I pick on constantly.  He is not really a kid (31 now) but if you knew him you'd know why I call him a kid.  I started working with him about 7 years ago. He worked in the North America Quote Center and since I'm in corporate pricing, he would be part of some of the trainings I would conduct.  I knew he was a smarty pants when I attended a distributor regional meeting and he (and a few of  his co-workers) each had a tiny slot on the agenda to present.  He was fabulous.  Quirky, funny, self-depreciating, but he got his message across perfectly and engaged the audience.  I also knew he was a star performer because he always asked the tough questions (meaning he thought beyond the basics) and he was the go-to person in his dept.  A few years ago there was an opening in our group and my boss asked me who I thought would be a good candidate.  I immediately thought of Josh and and recommended him.  My boss wasn't convinced this 'kid' could step up and take on the new challenge but I encouraged both of them.

Now Josh, a few years ago was a shy Jewish boy who lived at home with his parents.  His father is a meek guy and his mother is a force.  He has several sisters and is the baby of the family.  He was a few pounds overweight, showed up at work in a t-shirt and baseball cap and worked his butt off.  For the interview with my boss, he went out and bought a white button down shirt.  He showed up with it on, with all the fold wrinkles still in place.  I think he opened it out of the bag that morning and just threw it on.  He had a jacket and when he went into the interview he asked Rich, should I wear the jacket or no.  That was the kind of kid he was.  He got the job and it's been great to see him step up and grow in his skills and knowledge.  He lost some weight (about 30 pounds), learned how to wear a button down shirt and never once showed up with a jacket.  His baseball cap still comes with him EVERY DAY, but instead of wearing it, he holds it in his hands or keeps it by his computer.  It's like his security blanket.  He shows up for work at like 6:30am and I hear he wears the cap until others arrive around 7:30/8:00.  He is a huge asset to our group and he will be missed.  He now will go back to the Quote Center only this time as the supervisor.  He is ready for this next challenge and I know he'll be great.

My favorite Josh story is the time I was at my cube and sneezed.  He sits two cubes away from me.  I get an instant message 'Bless you.'  I just busted up laughing.  Millennials and their texting!

I just started a bible study this fall on Joshua and sometimes tell him 'be strong and courageous' since that is a theme from the Joshua passage. Since he's Jewish, we share a lot of knowledge of old testament and it's 'fair game' for conversation.  I didn't have a verse from Joshua directly as a stamp, but I had this Deuteronomy verse and since it's the same theme, thought it perfect for him.

I wrote some lovely words on the inside of the card.  I hope that he can read them.  My handwriting has gotten more and more unreadable over the years and most things I hand write, can't be understood.  But I tried to be legible and hope he gets the encouraging message.

They had started moving his things yesterday and already I was sad.  He helps me a lot.  He knows a ton and is the go-to person for many of us when we need help with excel, data from our current research system or really anything.  I thought I lost my car keys the other day and he was right there looking around the area for them.  His sister's trained him right!  We already are joking that Aaron, who sits just next to Josh will have to take over as the 'new Josh.'  Already Aaron helped me with something in MS word.  Someone always has to fill that role of the 'go to person.'  Aaron is great too.  He just started last spring, and he too is a bright star on the rise!.  It's fun to watch young talent succeed!

Thanks for visiting my blog today and make it a great day!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A card to say goodbye...

Hi friends,

Today's card features one I put together early in the morning Tuesday for my friend Becky.  I met Becky probably 13 years ago.  I was a discussion leader in the Hopkinton Bible Study Fellowship Class and Becky was put in my group.  We hit it off right away.  Becky is energetic, funny and totally transparent.  I loved her right away and was so happy to watch her grow in her faith during the study. As a discussion leader I would call the ladies in my group throughout the week to ask them about their prayer requests and to help encourage them in their study.

During these weekly calls I learned that Becky was a corporate girl who had jumped out of the fast track to focus on her son.  When I met her she had been out of the corporate world for a few years and her son was approaching high school. Becky mentioned that she was looking to re-join the workforce and when a position opened up in my company I told her about it.  Well, she interviewed, got hired and worked at my company for 10 years.  Tomorrow is her last day.  She has decided to move on and get into either teaching at the university level or work in non-profit.  I'm so happy for her but will miss her.  A few of us took her to lunch Tuesday and when I woke up at 5am and couldn't fall back asleep I decided to use the free time to make a card for her.

I took a few minutes before my dear husband was up to write a short but heartfelt note to her.  As I wrote it I tried to hold back the tears.  I'm going to miss her and no matter how much we say we'll stay in touch, the relationship will change.   After lunch she came by and gave me a hug.  I won't see her on her last day tomorrow, but plan to call her next week.  I know it will be hard for her to say goodbye.  She has a lot of friends in the company.

So, if you read my blog the other day you may be curious about what I'm thinking these days about my career.  Should I lean in or recline?  Well, if you know me well, you are probably not surprised that I'm choosing to lean in.  I have business in my blood.  In high school I knew right away that I wanted to go to school for marketing and I was an intense student.  I remember staying after class at Clarkson University to talk to my economics professor about supply-demand curves.  In my marketing classes where we did case studies I would develop strategies and execute them and crush my fellow students in the competing groups.  I've always loved business and thought of turning down an opportunity that I'm qualified for, ready to tackle and being asked to do is not really much of an option.  

I'm also reading the book 'What on earth am I here for' by Rick Warren.  Rick's book focuses on the fact that God has a purpose for my life and I need to find out what it is and start doing it.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through the book, but the theme is evident.  Do everything for the glory of God.  Be the best business person you can be and as you do it, give glory to God.  Now many of you may have no idea what that means.  But I get it.  I can serve God in the business world by being a women of integrity.  I can be caring and compassionate with those I work with.  I can model hard work and a clean mouth.  I can keep life in perspective and not freak out when things don't go as planned.  I can glorify God by not being self-centered but humble and a good mentor to others.  So now I'll wait and see how the story unfolds and whatever comes tomorrow, I'll stay focused on being the best I can be.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

First Christmas card of the season

Hi friends,

How are you.   I starting working on Christmas cards last week, but never had time to post. The below card is a fun winter scene using a vellum top layer and some glitter glue for snow.  It's cold here and we had flurries today so it's getting to be that time again!

Anyway, how was your week?  Mine was exhausting.  I switched to full time (40 hours a week) from 30 hours a week a few weeks ago.  I have been working 30 hours a week (Four 7.5 hour days) for the past 15 years.  Around July I started working 40+ hours a week and by the time September rolled around it seemed appropriate to ask the company to start paying me for 40 hours instead of 30 so I asked for the change.  I did think about it, but my motivation was primarily that since I was already working the hours, I should be compensated for it.  I did give some consideration to the longer term implications of the decision.  I thought, do I really still need one day off in a week?  Since we are empty nesters now there wasn't really a driving force to have me remain part-time so I took the plunge.

I officially switched to full time on Oct 13th and have enjoyed one pay period with the extra money. But I'm not sure I like it and I'm not sure it's worth it.  Our project goes LIVE Nov 10th so most of last week I worked late.  Then Saturday I went in from 9-3 and today (Sunday) I worked 3-6.   My boss asked the whole team to put in the extra hours and it wasn't optional.  I wasn't happy but tried really hard not to complain.  Tonight, my eyes hurt from staring at a screen.  My shoulders hurt from hunching over a desk/table. My hands, elbow, forearm and neck hurt from repetitive strain injury.  I took a muscle relaxant last night and it helped, but the ache is still there.  So I'm wondering if I was crazy to ask for the change.

However, it's kind of hard to judge how well I'll like full time based on a recent episode of full-time plus a ton more!  So I'll try not to make a quick decision and see where I'm at once the project is done and the workload settles.  My fear is that the workload will never settle.  Next time I have a one-on-one with my boss I'll ask if the option exists for me to go back to part-time.  It's good to know what options I have.  My boss and I have had a few conversations recently about a new opportunity in our group.  It will mean more responsibility, but as far as I can tell, not an increase in pay.  Sigh.  It's kind of hard to know what to say in that case.  I'm flattered?  Thank you?  I'm also not sure that saying no thank you is an option.  Not that I'm a big career women, but generally saying no to more responsibility and more opportunity is a death sentence for advancement.  Sigh.  I hope I know what to do when the actual opportunity is formally presented.  I have my bible study and church friends praying that I'll have wisdom about it.

The funny thing is that around the time I decided to go full-time I also starting reading the book 'Leaning In' by Sheryl Sandberg.  The theme of her book is that women need to exert themselves in the workplace and desire and ask for promotions and raises.   We need to be ambitious and go for it! She talks about a lot of stuff, but the theme lean in resonates throughout.  She says that often women tend to 'not sit at the table' or not lean in when opportunity knocks. I can relate to not sitting at the table.  A few months ago I was invited to meeting and one of the big bosses showed up.  It was a large meeting with probably 28 men and two women.  I tried to sit in the most inconspicuous place of all - far from the big boss.  If there had been seats on the edge of the room, not at the conference table, I would have taken one.  She says women often do that and it's not healthy.  I deserved to be in the meeting I had something to contribute to the meeting, I was invited to the meeting so I should 'sit at the table.'  But I hesitated in the foreign environment.

So, interesting that I read this book at the time in my career.   Based on her book, I was motivated (on behalf of all working women in the world) to not miss my opportunity to lean in.

But I also have to be emotional wise.  Leaning in at this moment of time in my career, with my personality and other factors may not make sense.  This might not be my 'lean in moment.'  I have to figure that out.

Remember, when you say yes to one thing, you automatically are saying no to many others.   So by choosing to work full-time and/or taking on this new opportunity, I have to realize that it will close the door to several other things.  I can lead in several places and can certainly volunteer (if I have the free time.)  I also need to be aware of my health.  I don't want to say yes to an ulcer from taking on more than I can handle.  Below is a link to an interesting article that takes the opposite stand from lean in, it says lean back.  It's a good read... check it out.  Of course it helps if you read the book...

Recline, don't lean in.

So I have some thinking to do.  And some relaxation to do.  It's Sunday night and as my husband would say I"m wound tighter than a 7 day clock would 8 days."  Whatever that really means.  But no matter what, it's not a great way to start another work week.  Even though it's late I think I'll go do a bit of yoga, brew a cup of herbal tea and snuggle up with the dogs and watch stupid TV.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  If you have any sound advice, leave a comment.