Streamlining our business paperwork

| February 14, 2012

I learned today that faulty memory chips were probably the cause of my recent computer crashes. Learned by replacing them. I also learned how to move information from our settlement statements into our spreadsheet. Learned by figuring it out.

Diane and I woke up this morning in our Florida vacation house where we have been since early January. We are wrapping things up here and intend to be back on the road soon.

I have been having computer crash issues. Tests run a few days ago indicated bad memory (the computer, not me). Memory chips are cheap so I ordered some. They arrived yesterday and I replaced them today. That seems to have done the trick.

My regular blog readers know about Operation Streamline. That is my ongoing project to streamline our business and personal paperwork. Settlement statements issued by our former carrier did not lend themselves to easy use. Years ago, they came in the mail and were difficult to read. They later became available online but remained difficult to read. Then the format was improved which was great, but there was no easy way to download the information directly into a spreadsheet.

Our present carrier’s settlement statements are also available online. Information from them can be moved into a spreadsheet but it takes several steps to do so. Even so, that is a welcome change. Once the information is in a spreadsheet, it can be put to good use.

Here’s an example. The freight Diane and I haul is dispatched to us by agents. The weekly settlement statements show how much each agent paid us for each run. If we wanted to know how many runs we got from each agent or which agents paid the most money per run, we could figure that out by looking at each statement and tallying the numbers. Or we could move the settlement data into a spreadsheet to get our answers more quickly and accurately (no math errors).

The settlement statements do not tell us the miles driven on each run. We track that in a run journal. There again, if we wanted to know which agents are sending us on the longest runs or on the highest pay-per-mile runs, we could do it manually or automate the process by getting the information into a spreadsheet and then running reports.

As I said, my Operation Streamline is an ongoing project. It was nice today to move forward by figuring out how to move our settlement data into our spreadsheet. We used to enter each item manually, one item at a time. Now I can copy and paste the information in chunks.

It would be easier still if settlement info was available in .csv format. That would make it nearly effortless to import it into our spreadsheet. I have not talked to our present carrier about this. My guess is that .csv files are not commonly requested so the IT manpower that would be required to make them available is directed elsewhere.

The perfect-world solution would be if every carrier made it possible for every driver and contractor to run a wide variety of reports online. I don’t see that happening anytime soon so Operation Streamline continues.

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