Obsessed With Data Demons

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Lessons Learned – Obsessed With Data Demons
Note: In relating this story, I used a lot of terms related to QQube, MS Excel and QuickBooks. QQube is a database tool for QuickBooks and allows users to analyze data in far more detail than you could with QuickBooks.

How many times do you get obsessed with finding an answer to a problem and don’t ask for help?
Don’t let yourself go down this dark path by yourself…. Seek help and save yourself time and sanity… Allow your pride to be humbled. Even just talking out the problem with others may yield insights that you will not come up with on your own.

The consequences of not asking for help came to light the other day as I  spent 3 days attempting to balance an Excel  report between  QQube (www.clearify.com) and QuickBooks.   Numbers, transactions and dates whirling about.  I was determined to find the issue so that I could either solve it or describe it the folks at QQube.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want help – I did but felt that if I didn’t continue to find a solution, then what good am I. Chuck Vigeant, QQube’s founder, has always mentored me and others to stretch and think about your problem – what you are going after and doing, instead of just seeking an answer.

I was obsessed and couldn’t put my spreadsheet down. The numbers were swimming around me. This client had some unusual accounting practices and this made me sure that one of their crazy transactions was causing a problem. I just couldn’t get it to match to QuickBooks(QB). I knew that QQube is extremely reliable and maps to QuickBooks 99.9% of the time. I trust QQube. So why was my report not balancing? What was I doing wrong when searching for the correct answer? My client wanted to know why it didn’t agree with QB. Getting so wrapped up in the numbers and grasping for clues lead me down the wrong path to search. I finally found a reasonable solution that made sense to me, logically, and went with that path. But the numbers still did not match up. And as such, I still kept at it. 

I was getting very obsessed and ignoring my other client work.

About this time, Chuck did reach out to me and we looked at issue together. His approach was different than mine and frankly what we found was something I would not have even thought would’ve been an issue.

The technical part: Chuck opened up the Accounts Receivable report in Excel using QQube’s Pivot Table display . It didn’t balance.  I was starting to feel vindicated. See.. something is wrong! We opened up one of the transactions, half of the entries was missing. The missing entries were Statement Charges. Hmmm…..Chuck did looked deeper by generating some MS Query queries showing the various transaction ids and table links. Where were the Class Id’s.?  It turned out that Class was causing and issue. Class? huh? As far as I knew, this client wasn’t using even using Classes. Chuck had an inkling about this and removed Class from the pivot table. Pivot refreshed and it agreed with QuickBooks. wow! Who would’ve guessed.

We looked closer at the statement charges in the transaction details report in QB. Class was being assigned to  old transactions. Classes were active at one time. However the Statement Charge register was not showing any class field. Checking QB preferences, class tracking had been turned off. As a test, we turned it back on. Did a manual QQube refresh and balances remained good.

In the beginning of this journey , I converted the Open AR QQube pivot table to a table listing. And naturally, since Class was part of the original pivot it followed to the table. So from the beginning, my detail table was appearing to be off. And then this got me off looking into other directions.

To appease my need to be in the table listings and then generating my own pivots, I opened up the detail table listing for the subject. I recreated my pivot using the same fields that Chuck and I had used. And of course, it generated correctly. I can now be happy and add some of the calculated column groupings that I dearly love.

So I relay this story to first, tell you to seek help if you are struggling. (Chuck states you should not spent more than an hour looking – fat chance!) And secondly, to give one ideas about how to sleuth out issues ,to look beyond what’s obvious. And if you find yourself obsessed – back off! Know when you are too close. Find a buddy who knows the software, in this case QQube, and can offer advice.

And finally…
As I pondered the path chosen in resolving this issue, I realized that these lesson’s
are not limited to debugging databases, spreadsheets or the like. These lessons apply to all of LIFE. Too often we try to solve our problems and issues ourselves and end up going in a direction that completely differs from the truth. We come to faulty conclusions and miss our mark.

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