Blog Archive

Today's Inspiration - Honesty


It takes great courage to be honest. One of the noblest qualities in a person is the ability to say, “I am sorry, I was wrong, you were right”. It doesn’t really matter about being right, winning arguments or having my ideas accepted. It matters more that I am able to recognize my mistakes, take responsibility for them, learn the lesson and move forward with greater maturity.

Some Effective Quotes for Being Strong

Excel Slicers - An Effective Tool to Filter and Summarize Data

Introduction to Slicers - what are they, how to use them, tips, advanced techniques and formatting - Excel Pivot Tables & Slicers - Tutorial

Slicers – what are they?

Slicers are visual filters. Using a slicer, you can filter your data (or pivot table, pivot chart) by clicking on the type of data you want.
For example, let’s say you are looking at sales by customer profession in a pivot report. And you want to see how the sales are for a particular region. There are 2 options for you do drill down to an individual region level.
  1. Add region as report filter and filter for the region you want.
  2. Add a slicer on region and click on the region you want.
With a report filter (or any other filter), you will have to click several times to pick one store. With slicers, it is a matter of simple click.

See this demo:

Demo of Excel slicers

Download Slicer Examples Workbook

This post is very long and has many examples. Please click here to download slicer examples demo workbook. It contains all the examples shown in this post and a fun surprise too.

How to insert a slicer?

Note: Slicers are available only in Excel 2010 and above.
Adding a slicer in Excel 2010:
In Excel 2010, you can add a slicer only to pivot tables. To insert a slicer, go to either,
  • Insert ribbon and click on Insert Slicer
  • or Options ribbon (PivotTable Tools) and click on Insert Slicer
Adding a slicer in Excel 2013 / 2016:
In Excel 2013 and above, you can add a slicer to either pivot tables or regular tables.
Adding slicers to regular tables:
When you add a slicer to regular Excel tables, they just act like auto-filters and filter your table data. To add a slicer to regular table, use Insert ribbon > Insert Slicer button.
Adding slicers to Pivot tables:
To add a slicer, you can do either of these things:
  • Right click on pivot table field you want and choose “add as slicer”
    Add as slicer from Pivot table fields list
  • Use either analyze or insert ribbon to add the slicer.
    Insert a slicer from Pivot Table Analyze Ribbon

Single vs. Multi-selection in Slicers

You can select a single item or multiple items in slicers. To multi-select,
  • If the items you want are together, just drag from first item to last.
  • If the items you want are not together, hold CTRL key and click on one at a time.

Creating interactive charts with slicers

Since slicers talk to Pivot tables, you can use them to create cool interactive charts in Excel. The basic process is like this:
  1. Set up a pivot table that gives you the data for your chart.
  2. Add slicer for interaction on any field (say slicer on customer’s region)
  3. Create a pivot chart (or even regular chart) from the pivot table data.
  4. Move slicer next to the chart and format everything to your taste.
  5. And your interactive chart is ready!
Demo of interactive chart using slicer:
Here is a quick demo.
Creating interactive charts using Excel slicers - demo

Linking multiple slicers to same Pivot report

You can add any number of slicers to a pivot report. When you add multiple slicers, each of them plays a role in telling the pivot table what sub-set of data to use for calculating the numbers.
Multiple slicers linked to one pivot table - explanation

Linking one slicer to multiple pivot tables

You can also link a single slicer to any number of pivot reports. This allows us to build very powerful, cross-filtered & interactive reports using Excel.
To connect multiple pivot tables to single slicer, follow these steps.
  1. Optional: Give names to each of the pivot tables. To name the pivot tables, click anywhere in the pivot, go to Analyze ribbon and use the pivot table name field on top-left to give it a name.
    1. If you don’t name your pivot tables, Excel will give them default names like PivotTable73. This can be confusing once you have more than a few pivot tables.
  2. Right click on the slicer and go to Report Connections (in Excel 2010, this is called as PivotTable connections).
    Report connections - linking slicers to more than one pivot table report
  3. Check all the pivot tables you want. Click ok.
    Linking multiple pivot tables to a slicer in Excel - how to
Now both pivot tables will respond to the slicer. See this demo:
Slicer linked to multiple pivot tables - Excel demo

Linking slicers to more than one chart

You can use the same approach to link one slicer to more than one chart (pivot chart or regular one).
See this demo:
Multiple interactive charts with slicers - demo
You can examine this chart in detail in the Slicer Examples workbook.

Capturing slicer selection using formulas

While slicers are amazing & fun, often you may want to use them outside pivot table framework. For example, you may want to use slicers to add interactivity to your charts or use them in your dashboard.
When you want to do something like that, you essentially want the slicers to talk to your formulas. To do this, we can use 2 approaches.
  • Dummy (or harvester) pivot table route
  • CUBE formulas route
Dummy pivot table route
This is the easiest way to capture slicer selection into a cell. Using a dummy pivot table, we can find out which items are selected in slicers and use them for some other purpose, like below:
Capturing slicer selection with Excel formulas - demo
The process is like this:
  • Let’s say you want to know which profession is picked up in the slicer (so that you can use it in some formulas or charts).
  • Create another pivot table.
  • Add the profession field to row labels area.
  • Link the slicer to this new pivot table as well (using report connections feature of slicer)
  • Now when you click on the slicer, both original pivot and this new dummy pivot change.
  • Access row labels like regular cells in your formulas to find out which slicer item is selected.
See this illustration to understand how to set up the formulas:
How to find out which items are clicked on slicers using Excel formulas - Explanation

Brilliant Advice on How to Reset and Deep Clean Your Life

If your cup is full, you can't pour water in it. That's one of the governing principles of all time. It's impossible to turn the tide of your life and to rewrite your history if you act depending on unsorted issues from your past.
Your life puzzle will continue to form same picture if you continue to use the same elements. It doesn't matter how many times you try to mix them differently.
Use a reset to start a mindful formation of yourself and your new path.
Don't achieve this by searching for new goals, declaring how you see yourself in five years, or by analyzing your mission and purpose. This whole process will be stuck in your old beliefs, which are the ones that take away a whole lot of your energy.
You should start by decluttering your life, both physically and mentally.
Uncontrolled hoarding leads to two things:
  1. Endless repetition of your past. Your life starts to be filled with déjà vu.
  2. Deceleration of life speed. It's when you look at those who are able to do three times as much as you do and can't wrap your mind around the fact how they manage that. Success in life and self-actualization in all spears of life is only possible at full speed.
It makes sense to tidy up your life in three dimensions: past, present, and (don't be surprised) future. Pardon my French, but yes, there is already a pile of shit dumped on your future, and that's something you need to clean as well.
Start with the present. It's the most objective. It's here and now. A full-scale purge of the current moment will vitalize and energize you. Believe me, those are the sensations you will undoubtedly need again.

The main thing is to get rid of all the hanging questions from your to do list.

I'd like to mention that I don't suggest you polish your present all at once like some Cinderella (well, sure it would be useful!) — At first, you need to sort out the mess and bring «unsolved cases» to a close, even if you have to reset them. You have to take out the tasks from a waiting-list and bring them into operation if they have been there for more than a couple of weeks. This will truly invigorate you.
Here are the things to do this weekend to get a good start at re-vamping your life:

1.Throw away trash

Get rid of all the trash. Discard it, give it away, or take it to a foster house. Never use the «I'll put it in this box and maybe someday take it to a church». Actually take it away. Don't leave anything on a waiting-list.
So, what is junk?
It's everything you don't use. Here's the deal: everything you haven't used throughout the year (that's pretty lawful) you have to give away, sell or discard, including:
— Clothes you don't wear.
— Most of the souvenirs apart from those that actually make your house a home (in fact, it's usually a minority of what you own).
— Inutile or outmoded dishes and consumer electronics.

The more you get hold of, the better it is for you. You should understand that literally every small thing is a fraction of your energy. Take a practical view of the situation and bring only delightful things that you can make use of into your new life. When you approach your belongings, ask yourself: «Do I want to keep this energy, or should I let new energy take its place?»
If your cup is full, you can't pour water in it.
You are the one emptying your cup. You can pour in as much as you pour out. If you are greedy, don't be surprised when there's no room for big change.
All in all, a full-scale cleaning is a game called «To what extent am I ready to let new experience into my life?»
The more you throw away, the more ready you are. By the way, this case applies to all the spaces you own, including your office, your summer house, your car, and even your private jet (if you have one). Surprise your colleagues — tidy your desk for real, start a genuine cleaning process!

2. Delete files

​Taking out the trash is just the thick end of the stick. That's time to delete files! How much time do you spend online in front of your computer? This is your space as well, even if it's virtual. It's also a share of your energy.
We are used to storing everything on our computers. Why delete any of it? The hard drive will fit everything.
The same principle applies here: cleaning is a way to let energy loose. Leave only the files you like and value. Why would you keep a film that you didn't enjoy? Why do you save those old useless files? It's a part of you. Do you want to take it with you, even though it's obvious that the more weight you are caring, the slower you go? Or, do you want to make place for something new?
Your work computer needs the after action review as much as your personal PC. Don't forget to do the same with your social media accounts, blogs, and websites.

3. Organize your things

I never was a fan of immaculacy, so I even took time to build creative chaos, sheltering myself behind my propensity for art.
Here is what I've got to say now: balanced order (not frantic, but organized) guarantees that your affairs will go smoothly, especially if it's time to speed things up. You won't be able to switch your speed if chaos prevails on your working desk and in your apartment.

4. Filter incoming information

A flow of incoming information also needs order and tidying-up. It's food for thought and something your brain functioning depends on. That's the only way to put it. Have you heard of information intoxication? That's a common condition many people suffer from nowadays. They read whatever they find on the net and constantly share quotes of great men, by which a true whisper of their souls is silenced.
Information tends to accumulate; it doesn't go anywhere from the subconscious, that's why we should meticulously filter information. We should let in only what's valuable and start implementing it at once, which will allow it to educate us. Otherwise it'll clutter our channels and create powerful infoglut. This'll cause you to make mistakes on your way, because you won't be able to hear the true whisper of your soul.
That's why I recommend you to do these things today:
  1. Give your friend list a clean.
    Delete all friends whose updates are not sympathetic and inspiring.
  2. Clean your news feed
    Delete or hide those people whose updates get on your nerves, and especially those who post adverse information on world events.
  3. Nail down a list of blogs and websites you are planning to read
My main principle for determining significance of an information source is a feeling of it striking a deep chord in my heart. That's when you read something and you can sense inner feedback, a recognizable feeling of awareness, and an appetite for action.
In no way should you use «I received an email, so I'll subscribe and read it» principle. No. This should be a selection of those resources that fulfill you and make you happy. It should be purged and filled with new resources regularly.

5. Finish all pending business and reset it to zero

It's essential to carry through with all business from your waiting-list. You should change its status to «in process,» start doing it, and get it done; or, reset it to zero. It's better to decide for yourself that at this point you stop doing something than carry the burden with you. You should sense that everything is done, current affairs are in order, and there are no hanging questions. That's the «first speed» to get to a «What do I want from this life» question and move towards intended changes.
In conclusion, I should say that the deep cleaning process for your present includes two key pillars: decluttering on all levels, and harmonization of your affairs.
Tune your channels in such a way that you only receive practical quality information in reasonable quantities, and you'll see how your world transforms.
You can recreate yourself only if you remember not to be held back by your late experiences.
Let the clean-up begin!
​Author: Olesya Novikova

The PMP - How it Ruined Project Management

The PMP - How it Ruined Project Management
Stuart Hamilton

Project Leader
There has always been a class of worker that is paid for their labor, not for their expertise. There is a reason they were called “laborers”. The IT professional used to be part of the workforce where they were highly skilled and earned a premium for their experience. Now employers, often while employing contract IT labor through agencies, look for a few base criteria, and then differentiate only on price. The IT professional might not be digging ditches, but they are now a “laborer”.
There are several reasons for this. The first is the rise in “Certification”. As a Project Manager, I used to earn a healthy consultant’s rate while using my experience as an engineer, to implement complex technical solutions. I had to be able to communicate with the developers, architects, DBAs, Network, Operations, and I could, because I had already served my apprenticeship as a developer and Systems Engineer. I was now the Lead of a group of IT staff, themselves skilled and experienced. Then along came the PMP. About 2007/8 I noticed jobs that needed the PMP qualification. There is value for a young neophyte in Project Management in pursuing the qualification since it would help develop them as a PM. Instead, I (without a PMP) was losing out to being presented for consultant opportunities. Agencies would explain, “We love your 20 year experience, but they will throw us out if we present anyone without a PMP.” They explained that it was better to present a resource with 5 years experience and a PMP, than a 20 year veteran without a PMP. So I begrudgingly got the PMP. It wasn’t that hard, but now I faced the issue of being presented against someone who had little experience in Project Management, or Engineering, or Management. Hey -We both had the PMP so we must be equally qualified, right! And I (no surprise) am more expensive with 20 years experience than someone who has only been out of school for 5 years. I had become a commodity, and when you are an expensive commodity, you are facing a tough road.

The result in hiring cheap, inexperienced PMs has now degraded the profession. You can’t assign leadership of a complex project to a “green bean” with a PMP, so instead of hiring an experienced PM, you dumb down the job requirement. The duties of a PM have switched from someone who identifies and solves your problems, and lead solutions, to someone who can maintain the project schedule, arrange meetings, and track actions on spreadsheets.  The Project Manager is now a low level functionary, so I have been struggling to give myself a more accurate title. I thought about calling myself a System Integrator, since that is often used by the Big 4 as they trundle in their high priced consultants, since the perception is that only a Big 4 company has the expertise to deliver on complex projects. Unfortunately, behind the curtain of the Senior Partner of the Big 4, is a school bus filled with eager, intelligent newbies, who can carry your water, but don’t expect them to identify and solve problems. To be fair to them, they just haven’t had the advantage of experience or maturity to develop enough wisdom to know how to be insightful or versatile. In the new paradigm, if they are called ‘Project Managers”, what can I call myself to try and highlight the difference in quality? Project Director perhaps, a nod to the fact that I have operated at Director or VP level ? Maybe “Program Manager” since there is a connotation that a Program is bigger than a project. Unfortunately, the Program manager has suffered the same degradation in responsibilities and now is responsible for managing the Methodology.

The Curse of the Methodology:  Instead of having the PM work out what needs to be done and then the PM taking care of it, (all behind the scenes), there emerged methodologies (PMP or otherwise) that try to ensure that the PM follows the menu of daily activities. Don’t get me wrong, a lean methodology to enforce good governance is a good thing, but on my last engagement, every project (big or small) had to lodge a minimum of 21 documents, and often as many as 40. These documents are lengthy, repetitive, and take weeks of the PM and other team members to fill out. Then they all go into the archive where they will never be read. I even heard the head of the PMO complain that they thought a step was common sense until the inexperienced PMs kept missing it, so they instead developed another document and checklist to try and generate the activity. Instead of tackling the symptom, they should be tackling the illness – inexperienced (but certified!) PMs. The most important part was that the documents were completed, not that they were read or were useful. The document load got so great, they even developed a portal to keep track of all the documents that were submitted. The documents were poor quality since everybody knew they weren’t useful, so the PMO then started layering multiple signoffs for each document by individuals or committees. The number of people needed to deliver on simple projects now mushroomed, all dependent on the paperwork mill. It was not in anyone’s interest to challenge this since the PMO and the governance committees were dependent on this activity for their existence at the company. Reduce the burden on the project, and you would have to let go 75% of the non-productive overhead.

And this is just my story. It could be said for all the IT profession. When you hire a developer, you look to see if they have specific experience in a particular language. They do, but when they arrive, they are only as useful as the direction you can give them, and since the PMs themselves are equally inexperienced, the product is inadequately formed. The experienced developer (who would have intuitively known and guided the Product manager what was best for the product development) is him/herself trying to differentiate on experience but losing on price to the cheapest commodity.

The solution for these problems is for hiring managers to rise up, reject the cheapest candidates presented by the vendor management system, and explain that they need experienced assistance from IT professionals.  You should expect more of your IT professional and then make sure you get candidates who can meet those expectations; don’t dumb down all these professions. In the end, you get what you pay for, and I’m still the cheapest insurance against failure you can get.

Tim Christensen, PMP, ITIL
Sr. Consultant at Blue Slate Solutions

​Very well written and a spot-on description of the perils of credentialing. I see scores and scores of PMPs with limited, at best, real PM skills. They think PM is filling out a form, writing meeting agendas and minutes and compiling a weekly report. PM is about looking 2 feet ahead and 2 months ahead and sometimes 1 year ahead all at the same time. It's not about PowerPoint slides, Outlook Calendars, and nifty lists and tables in Word. PM is about coalescing talent, focusing on priorities, consoling the client(s), and keeping an eye on risks...I do believe the proliferation in PMP credentials has dumbed down the profession, and ultimately, weakened the certification. PMI has been almost singularly focused on revenue, membership and promotion of their credentials. They have tossed quality to the side.



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