Core Competency #1
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
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
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
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