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Our Principal—
Stephen D. Colton

Meet Stephen D. Colton

Colton earned an MBA in Accounting from the University of Minnesota but credits his undergraduate training in chemistry and physics for his analytical prowess. With nearly thirty years of experience in industry and private practice, Colton couples his business savvy with personal computer wizardry to develop meaningful information for his clients. Steve enjoys community theatre and can often be found hiking on one of the many trails that surround his suburban Minneapolis home.

Examine the core competencies of Stephen D. Colton and Accounting Insights.The old maxim that "the sum of the parts is greater than the whole" is readily apparent.

Curriculum Vita

Click Here to download a .pdf version of Stephen D. Colton’s curriculum vita.

The Lingo

Core Competencies
The main ideas about core competencies were developed by C. K. Prahalad and G. Hamel through a series of articles in the Harvard Business Review followed by a best-selling book - Competing for the Future.

Their central idea is that over time companies may develop key areas of expertise which are distinctive to that company and critical to the company's long term growth. These areas of expertise may be in any area but are most likely to develop in the critical, central areas of the company where the most value is added to its products.

Core Competency #1
A Thorough Understanding of Business Processes

A thorough understanding of business processes.

Nearly every project with which Accounting Insights becomes involved requires a thorough understanding of process analysis, process modeling, process design and process improvement.

Stephen Colton has that thorough understanding. He is an expert in this field and he has written extensively about process-based cost management. He co-authored a recurring column for the Journal of Cost Management which focused on process management issues and he periodically contributes feature articles to that publication. One example of Coltonís work is his December 2001 article presenting a process-based model for moving the Controllerís organization from the old bean counter/corporate cop role to a new business partner role.

Core Competency #2
A Demonstrated Prowess in Modeling & Analysis

Demonstrated prowess in modeling and analysis.

One of Accounting Insights’ most significant strengths lies in Stephen Colton’s analytical prowess; he is an excellent abstract problem solver.

In project after project, Colton has demonstrated the ability to understand and visualize complex relationships and the ability to reduce those complex relationships to simple descriptive models. Colton also has shown the ability to recognize nuances in complex systems and a knack for knowing when subtle differences are important, and when they are not.

One of Coltonís earliest accomplishments (1996) was a model to balance the proposed price freeze for a Minneapolis electric utility against the potential reductions in the level and/or quality of services provided to consumers. The resulting white paper entitled "A Model for Assessing the Interaction of Price and Customer Service Changes in Electric Utility Merger Proposals&auot; was distributed to consumer advocates across the country and widely used in the regulatory evaluation of proposed utility mergers.

Core Competency #3
The Ability to Bridge the Business Manager / Operating Manager Gap

Ability to bridge the Busines Manager / Operating Manager gap

Stephen Colton has a rare ability to bridge the communications gulf that often separates the operating managers of an organization from its business managers.

It is a challenge. The operating folks concern themselves with cycle time and cost and quality- making on-time delivery of a top-notch product. At the same time, business managers wrestle with market-share and gross margins and overhead- making money for the stakeholders. It seems that the two groups have no hope of understanding each other; they are speaking different languages. But they must synchronize their efforts for a project to be successful and Colton brings them together. He is comfortable in both worlds and he speaks both languages.

Colton's competency is built on a combination of training and experience. His undergraduate studies were in the hard sciences, chemistry and physics. His MBA is in Accounting. Two worlds, two languages.

Colton's work with operating folks has been in industries that range from the design and manufacture of wooden cabinetry to the fabrication of custom integrated circuits. He has also worked with operating folks in software engineering, electric utilities and state government. On the business side of these organizations, Colton has worked with a variety of business processes that include business planning, procurement, accounting and information systems.

Core Competency #4
A Flair for Exploiting Personal Computers

Ability to bridge the Busines Manager / Operating Manager gap

Stephen Colton has been exploiting the power of the personal computer for his clients since the earliest days of Visicalc and the Apple II+. Today Colton leverages the capabilities of Microsoft Excel® in nearly every project we undertake, often after importing jumbles of data from other systems.

A recent project illustrates this competency. The objective was to re-engineer the process used by Fisher Sheehan & Colton (a Boston-based consulting firm) to calculate a Home Energy Affordability Gap. The project quickly became one to re-engineer the spreadsheet models FSC had been using— the tangled web of spreadsheets had spawned the tangled, inefficient process.

The re-engineering resulted in a base model being created for each state with key calculations segregated on individual worksheets. Common data was collected in single workbook to be accessed by each of the state models. Each state model was populated (after sifting, sorting and formatting) with data downloaded from the Census and other proprietary databases. Macros were written to transfer results from each state model to a summary workbook. Finally, links were created to transfer data to Microsoft Word® documents for each state. When the modeling was completed, the process for using the models was carefully documented so that it could be efficiently repeated time and again

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