SNAP Challenge: Day 3 in Review

Breakfast:

  • Josh: 1 hard-boiled egg, oatmeal with cinnamon

    Top Chef Worthy Egg Salad

    Top Chef Worthy Egg Salad

  • Tracy: 1 banana, 1/2 PB&J sandwich

Lunch:

  • Josh: 1 apple, yogurt with cinnamon, leftover rice and beans & rice with chicken and vegetables
  • Tracy: Egg salad (no bread), carrots, applesauce, hunk of pepper-jack cheese

Dinner:

  • Josh: Tuna Melt & leftover rice with chicken & vegetables
  • Tracy: Grilled cheese sandwich and Ramen soup (Chicken flavor) with mushrooms added

“Dessert”:

  • Both: Canned pears

Yesterday was the first day that I physically felt the implications of the food we had chosen. After dinner I had a terrible stomach-ache, no doubt a testament to the vast amounts of sodium I just consumed. In the ways of soup, I usually choose heartier options (with meat and vegetables) with low sodium content. Although I am a proponent that generic brands often taste identical to the name brand, in the case of the american cheese singles I had on my grilled cheese, I’d have to disagree. That too, seemed INCREDIBLY salty. Not sure if it was a victim of the Ramen I was eating with it, but that’s that. Unfortunately, I’ll have to endure that feeling a few more times, as I had planned on eating grilled cheese and Ramen throughout the week and don’t have enough options to make substitutions.

Tuna Melt & Rice via Chef JJ

Tuna Melt & Rice via Chef JJ

This weekend I was discussing the challenge with my friend, Josh, who gave me some insight on another form of food insecurity. A food desert is an area where affordable healthy food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. Food deserts are also noted in rural areas and are most likely to be found amid low-income communities. Some researchers link them to diet-related health problems in affected populations. Food deserts are sometimes associated with supermarket shortages and food insecurity. (definition from Wikipedia).” Although JJ and I were able to drive nearly 15 minutes to the nearest WalMart to find budget-friendly groceries, not everyone has that option.

 

3 down, 4 to go,

@ PostGradSAP

Tracy

 

 

SNAP Challenge: Day 2 in Review

Breakfast:

  • Tracy: 1 apple, 1/2 PB&J Sandwich
  • Josh: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 banana, 1 cup oatmeal with cinnamon

    Dinner. Hearty, but I wouldn't add it to the repertoire.

    Dinner. Hearty, but I wouldn’t add it to the repertoire.

Lunch:

  • Tracy: Egg salad sandwich, carrots, applesauce
  • Josh: Rice and Beans

Dinner:

  • Both: Steamed rice with veggies (canned sweat peas and fresh broccoli) with chicken (2 breasts total). TONS of leftovers! We used some of the condiments and spices we had at home to liven it up.

Snack: 

  • Tracy: A few bites of Josh’s PB&J, hunk of pepper-jack cheese
  • Josh: A PB&J Sandwich

 

For me, the thing that is going to be the most difficult about the rest of the week is not the fact that we won’t have enough to eat, but that we do not have a choice. The challenge is already starting to affect my social life because events usually revolve around food or drinking. I’ve been eating lunch at my desk while the rest of the team goes out together and find myself more irritable in the afternoon. Time management is also key. Josh and I spend about an hour and a half a night preparing dinner and packing our lunch for the following day, typically we wouldn’t spend more than a half an hour unless I had gone to the store to cook an elaborate meal. Truthfully though, some of the extra time has paid off in the ways of money saving. Usually, I buy frozen veggies that can be steamed directly in the bag, but I can save a dollar or more if I buy the kind that  requires you to put it in another container for heating. I’ve already lost a pound or two this week… a welcome change. I don’t think it’s due to eating more nutritiously though, but rather due to the fact that I don’t crave the food that I have readily available.

More to come,

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

SNAP Challenge: Day 1 in Review

Day 1 in review… JJ and I both went to bed with full bellies and happy hearts. On a typical day, I wouldn’t have bread or pasta with every meal, but aside from a lack of beef or poultry, I think we kept it balanced.

Bragworthy tidbit: The boyfriend and I ate an awesome dinner, for 2, for under $2.00. Who knew that was even possible?

 

Breakfast:

Dinner is Served!

Dinner is Served!

  • Tracy: 1 banana, 1/2 PB&J Sandwich (made with the heel)
  • Josh: Oatmeal with cinnamon, 1 apple

Lunch:

  • Tracy: Egg salad sandwich, 1 carrot, 1 cup applesauce
  • Josh: Rice and beans with chili sauce, yogurt with cinnamon

Dinner:

  • Both: Pasta with mushroom marinara cooked with frozen spinach and peas topped with shredded pepper-jack.

 

One of the things that I have definitely cut out of my daily routine is the glass (or 6) of diet coke I usually drink around lunchtime. Luckily, it’s not something I feel dependent on. Others who have taken the challenge find that the biggest sacrifice is often due to not enough or lower quality coffee. Luckily, neither of us have a taste for the stuff. Last night, after dinner, I was craving a taste of something sweet, but disallowed myself from opening one of the cans of fruit, for fear of running low on food throughout the week.  I also realized that our loaves of bread contain only 20 slices, not 22 as I had originally thought, so I intend to cut out the crust from my lunch later on this week.

Day 2 is upon us and I’m already feeling much more positive than I was during our dramatic shopping trip on Sunday.

 

Orange you glad I didn’t say Venti Non-Fat Chai Latte with one and a half Splenda?

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

SNAP (Food Stamp) Challenge Begins!

Yesterday, JJ and I went grocery shopping to kick off our week living on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.  We began this morning, but more on our daily eating regime later. What I’d like to review in this post is the following:

1. Why we have decided to take on the challenge.

The SNAP Challenge encourages participants to get a sense of what life is like for millions of low-income Americans facing hunger. By accepting the SNAP Challenge, you’ll commit to eating all of your meals from a limited food budget comparable to that of a SNAP participant – approximately $1.50 per meal.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) provides monthly benefits to supplement the food budgets of families in need, but in many cases these households still struggle to put food on the table. While it is impossible to fully comprehend the difficult decisions low-income families face, sharing your experience with the SNAP Challenge will help raise awareness about the issue of hunger in America.

JJ and I will be donating the money we typically spend on  groceries and meals out  to Wise Temple’s “Beans and Rice Week” Campaign.photo (9)

2. The “rules” for the week, so to speak.

  • Choose the duration of your SNAP Challenge. 10/28-11/3
  • Our food budget for the week of the Challenge is based on the average SNAP benefit in Ohio, $33.60/week– for ALL of our food and beverages. We could  use coupons while taking the Challenge, but could not shop at Membership clubs (unfortunately we are not coupon clippers, so we didn’t have any to use).
  • Using our Challenge budget, decide on groceries to purchase and how much to put aside for food incidentals. Be aware of ALL food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week/day.
  • During the Challenge, we cannot eat food that we purchased prior to starting the challenge.
  • Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or while at work.
  • Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of our experiences throughout the week, in particular the choices you made between the variety and quality of food you ate.
  • Basic condiments and spices do not have to be counted.

3. What our shopping cart looked like yesterday, compared to a normal week. The choices we had to make and how our week has already been affected.

First, a few unmentionables (those tidbits of information about the Challenge that I hate to admit, but must, for the sake of the project)..

  • JJ and I went grocery shopping at Walmart (something we have never done before). For fear of starvation, we had to go with the lowest cost grocery retailer. Typically, I frequent such stores as Kroger, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, usually whichever is most convenient at the time.
  • JJ and I did meal planning for the entire week. Albeit stressful, I actually wish we did this more often. This would make food related decisions much less time consuming during the week. However, due to our lack of funds, the meal planning resulted in quite a few arguments. We both had a different plan of attack, which led to a lot of frustration.
  • We planned to take the Challenge this week because we have very little going on. That in it of itself is very telling, Typically, we have plans throughout the week and over the weekend that would prohibit us from turning down a meal out with friends or a business meeting over lunch. Next Sunday we are attending an all-day conference through the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and *gasp* must pack our own lunch. I am embarrassed to admit how many frozen yogurt and sushi outings the girls and I take each week, well not this time ladies.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much food we were able to get with our allowance. I do not fear not having enough, but I know that this week’s meals will lack an adequate amount of protein and provide very little flexibility and variety based on our mood. We also won’t have extra money on hand for little sweet treats after a hard day of work, or a bowl of popcorn with our Wednesday television regiment. JJ and I were very strategic in that we left about 6$ on-hand for anything we may have forgotten throughout the week. I should also mention that we purchased generic brands whenever possible, which is also atypical of our shopping habits.

Here is a list of the groceries we were able to purchase this week ($60.62 spent, $6.58 of emergency money remains).

  • Tomato sauce: $1.50
  • 2 boxes of pasta: $2.00
  • Whole carrots: $.78 (I usually buy bagged baby carrots)
  • 2 heads of fresh broccoli: $1.96
  • 6 cans of tuna: $4.68 (for Josh, I don’t eat anything with gills)
  • 12 bananas: $2.70
  • 6 packages of Chicken Ramen: $1.20
  • Oatmeal: $1.68
  • 2 sweet potatoes: $1.43
  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts: $8.30
  • 2 loaves honey wheat bread: $2.96
  • 2 dozen eggs: $3.56
  • 1 can pears: $.98
  • 1 can mushrooms: $1.25
  • 1 jar peanut butter/jam swirl: $2.96
  • 2 cans black beans: $1.36
  • 2 cans chili beans: $1.36
  • 1 package margarine: $.92
  • 1 package monterrey jack cheese: $2.24
  • 7 apples: $2.13
  • 1 container applesauce: $1.98
  • 5 lb. rice: $2.98
  • 1 can peaches: $.98
  • 1 can pineapple: $.98
  • I can sweet peas: $.68
  • American cheese singles: $1.25
  • 1 package frozen peas: $.98
  • 1 package frozen green beans $.98
  • 1 package frozen spinach: $1.38
  • 1 large carton of plain yogurt: $2.48

All in all, I’m overly optimistic about the amount of food we were able to buy with our allowance. Using other challenge takers’ blogs as a benchmark, I feel as though we best utilized our resources to get a wide variety of food in all major food groups. Although I wish we could have gotten more meat, we will use eggs, peanut butter and beans as a protein substitute.

Raising awareness for food insecurity one step at a time (and one package of Ramen noodles at a time)…

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

Having an Audit Expert on your GRC Implementation, Yay or Nay?

I wanted to thank everyone for all the great feedback I received on my last post regarding Tanya Duncan’s book, “The Essential SAP Career Guide.” I got a lot of questions about topics that are covered more extensively in the book and some that are not, which I answered in the replies section of the post.

However, one of my readers delved into some specifics on SAP GRC and Security and asked for advice on how to break into the SAP ecosystem, as someone with an audit background in information systems. His area of expertise include: SOX, ISO, SAS70, SSAE16 etc. The reader when on to assert that  he”was surprised to see that even management lacks understanding and determination to plan and leverage their investments in SAP. And SAP GRC for sure is a strong way out. Imagine a company paying hundred of dollars to run SAP is yet to incur good additional cost for compliance review and management, just because either they are not aware or have not analyzed and  formulated how to configure SAP GRC to address various governance and compliance needs.”

My answer to this reader is I agree to some extent and I disagree to some extent. There are many industry professionals and SAP implementation teams that are looking for resources that are well versed in your areas of expertise regarding audit methodologies and risk management. People who want to seek out such opportunities may want to align themselves with a specific industry of which they are particular knowledgeable. This will allow them to lead conversations regarding risks and process standards across the industry and convey these standards to upper-level managers and C-level executives. Additionally, a person who seeks such positions must have strong written and verbal communication skills as they will be articulating these requirements to the implementation team who must be able to translate these requirements into the rule-set.  As a matter of fact, I have worked on a project where we had a resource on hand to help us with customization of a rule-set based on industry-specific regulations and Sarbanes-Oxley. Most consulting firms who have a reliable GRC Practice will be able to offer advice on SAP Best Practices for governance, risk and compliance (GRC) in order to facilitate quick decision making regarding the design of critical processes in the work stream. People with such expertise are really valuable when implementing GRC Risk Management, Process Controls and GRC Access Controls for Access Risk Analysis. However, if a company only wants to utilize GRC Access Controls for automatic user provisioning, user access review, business role management, emergency access management and the standard global rule-set for access risk analysis, this type of advisory role may be unnecessary.

Any feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

Kudos to the reader who challenged me to write about this topic.

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

Happy Friday!

Markley sleeping under my Snuggie. "Sorry dawg, Mom and Dad are too cheap to turn on the heat!"

Markley sleeping under my Snuggie. “Sorry dawg, Mom and Dad are too cheap to turn on the heat!”

Happy Friday world! Where did Autumn go? You know, that season that falls in between Summer and Winter. “Hey Autumn! Did you take a Fall or something?!” I crack myself up, but seriously, time to bust out that ankle-length jacket… it more than slightly resembles a down comforter. As my friend Lauren puts it, “the kind of jacket that makes you look like you’re walking around in a giant sleeping bag.” Let’s chalk this up to one of those things: can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

So a little update on what’s been going on with me… in no particular order: 

  • Still chugging along on our running regime. Got up to two miles last week (in Denver, 5000 ft above sea level). The race is 2.5 weeks away!
  • MY CLIENT IS LIVE ON THEIR NEW ROLE DESIGN! It’s the little wins in life. I’ll be wrapping up this project in the next few weeks. A few noteworthy stats from the role redesign: A reduction in user access by 78%! The users previously has 9% of all  available roles, that number was reduced to 4%, even though the number of roles nearly tripled. Users are now restricted to specific SAP tasks by company code. All roles are free from any inherent segregation of duties violations!

    My Life, Lately (In Pictures)

    My Life, Lately (In Pictures)

  • I will be doing a webinar on November 20th for SAP Experts on “Surviving an SAP Security Audit.” More details to follow.
  • Last weekend, I headed back to my alma mater to relive “the glory days (daze).” Had all my favorite greasy, fried foods and watched the Buckeyes conquer over the Hawkeyes in a nail-biter.
  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Check out this amazing picture montage from a photographer who documented his wife’s battle with breast cancer http://www.viralnova.com/wifes-cancer/. (warning: this is a tear-jerker). My friends and I attended the “PINK Prom” at the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati to join the fight against breast cancer and support the Susan G Komen Foundation. We got dressed up. Grabbed a few dates (to share). Walked the pink carpet. AND danced the night away… all for an AMAZING CAUSE!

 

Happy Friday to all my readers… stay warm out there.

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

Book Review: The Essential SAP Career Guide & GIVEAWAY!!!

Copyright 2013 by Espresso Tutorials GmbH

Copyright 2013 by Espresso Tutorials GmbH

ANYONE WHO LIKES OR COMMENTS ON THIS POST. TWEETS @POSTGRADSAP OR E-MAILS ME AT TRACYMLEVINE@GMAIL.COM WILL BE ENTERED INTO A RAFFLE TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF “THE ESSENTIAL SAP CAREER GUIDE”. I WILL MAIL YOU THE GIFT DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON.

A consultant friend/acquaintance/fellow post-grad of mine, Tanya Duncan recently published her first book, The Essential SAP Career Guide. Talk about over-achiever and by over-achiever I mean role model. She has a blog, a husband, a dog AND a book… clearly she’s doing something right. I can’t complain though 2/4 for a 20-something will placate me for at least the next 365 days. Before I review her book however, I HAVE SOMETHING SERIOUS TO CONFESS… ***achem spoiler alert*** The reason my blog exists is because of Tanya. My manager happened to stumble across it one day while surfing the virtual world and passed along the link. The rest is history. Did I mention that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, back to the book. THE BOOK. THE INCREDIBLE BOOK. In the preface, Tanya touches on the reason why she began writing an SAP career guide and it makes total sense. There is nothing like it out there. Beginning your career in SAP is incredibly overwhelming, not even a senior consultant can know it all, which it makes it very difficult to know where to begin. I would recommend Tanya’s book to anyone starting out in SAP consulting, in the industry, or any SAP partner that is looking for a valuable resource to provide to young consultants within their organization (or training program, like the one I started in).

Tanya’s book is separated into 5 main units. I thought the information was presented in a clear and concise manner. As someone who has been in the field for over 2 years, I even learned a thing or two (or 64)! Below are some of my thoughts on each of these sections… my two (or 64) cents if you will.

  1. Introduction to SAP: One of Tanya’s key points (that I 100% agree with) is that the biggest success factor as an SAP professional will ultimately be your ability to articulate SAP in terms of functional business processes. The section also touches on SAP in today’s market, competition in terms of other ERP software solutions and the business impact of utilizing such software. SAP consultants are also required to have inherent leadership qualities and verbal and written communication skills.
  2. Starting your SAP Career: Tanya did a great job detailing the differences between a consulting gig vs. a career as an industry professional. I will say that one of the unique aspects of my position in SAP is that unlike a lot of post-grads I can confidently say that I have found a career, not just a job. Furthermore, one of the biggest “pain points” that people identify with Generation-Y is, for lack of a better term, “the ADD mentality.” Ultimately, most Gen Yers don’t believe in company loyalty and like to change things up now and again. If this is you, then a career as a consultant may be very fitting, as it will give you the opportunity to work on many projects with many clients. Tanya also discusses the traditional SAP consulting career path from intern or analyst to partner as well as the benefits of a small vs. large firm. As someone who works at a consulting firm that would be deemed “mid-market” by standard industry terms I want to offer some additional tidbits about why some might find a small firm more appealing. Primarily, although the career path at a large firm is mapped out from day one, sometimes large firms have an “up or out mentality.” It’s not always possible for someone who is comfortable in their current position to remain in that role. Second, diversity is of the utmost importance at a small firm. For example, if you are a FI/CO consultant, you won’t get pigeonholed into only A/R configuration during an implementation. Your efforts will be focused across all aspects of the business process as well as key integration points. In this section, Tanya also highlights the benefits of independent consulting, functional vs. technical roles and how one can transition from an industry to a consulting role and vice versa.
  3. How to find a job working with SAP technology: I fell into SAP consulting by chance, so this wasn’t as applicable as the rest of the book, however, this chapter discusses everything from interviewing to resumes, which are vital skills to review if you are consultant who is preparing for a client meeting. One point of contention (sorry TD), I personally believe it’s imperative to discuss compensation during the interview process especially if the interviewer specifically asks you for a range regarding expected salary.
  4. SAP Terminology, Tools and Methodology: SAP Terminology… hallelujah! Boy, do I wish there was something like this when I was starting out. My friend, Evernote, and I have started quite the little dictionary ourselves. Deployment methodologies, common SAP tools (ie. Solman), this is where things got a little dicey for me. AND ALSO WHERE I LEARNED A LOT. I realized that we all have a lot to share about our strategies and the tools that we find most beneficial. I found this section incredibly worthwhile. Tanya did an excellent job in articulating the concepts behind Business Process Redesign and how SAP can be a challenge when business requirements dictate a need for change, either in regards to the business processes directly or in relation to customization of the SAP landscape.
  5. Important SAP Skills and Concepts for Beginners: Some things cannot be learned nor taught. The same can be said for professional skills. I truly believe that anyone who possesses the professional skills, is smart and has a willingness to learn can be an SAP consultant. The technical skills are those which can be accumulated over time, no SAP professional is ever done learning. Tanya’s guide provides young professionals with the tools and information to begin navigating the system on their own and understand the key technical requirements to make changes within the system.

My 10th grade HONORS (I swear, check my transcripts!) English teacher used to preach to us that whenever we write we should always aim to keep things “mini-skirt length.” That is, “long enough to cover the details and short enough to keep it interesting.” Kudos, Tanya Duncan, on an SAP book that didn’t bore me to tears and yet, still had depth.

About the Author:

DSC_9165-332x500Tanya Duncan is a SAP Finance & Controlling Consultant with Deloitte, the world’s largest private professional services firm. She has 3 years experience on global SAP deployments as a Controlling and Product Costing lead. Tanya currently reside in San Diego, CA with her husband, Joel, and poodle, Maddie. Her client-service work has taken her to Europe and around the United States. Previously, Tanya worked for Owens Corning, a Fortune 500 global building materials company in Toledo, OH. A graduate from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, Tanya received her BBA in Management Information Systems. For further questions or more information about Tanya, please visit her blog or reach out to her via e-mail: Tbedro@mac.com.

The Essential SAP Career Guide is is now available on the following e-book sites:

The guide is also available in paperback on Amazon.

REMINDER: ANYONE WHO LIKES OR COMMENTS ON THIS POST. TWEETS @POSTGRADSAP OR E-MAILS ME AT TRACYMLEVINE@GMAIL.COM WILL BE ENTERED INTO A RAFFLE TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF “THE ESSENTIAL SAP CAREER GUIDE”. I WILL MAIL YOU THE GIFT DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON.

Here’s to the newbies,

@PostGradSAP

Tracy