Finance Specialist 1
Minnesota Management & Budget
Arlen Harmoning works for the Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) statewide payroll services section. He has worked there since 2008, providing ad hoc reporting and personal computer software support. He has a bachelor's degree in biology from Concordia College and a master's degree in zoology from North Dakota State University. Prior to accepting the job in Minnesota, Harmoning worked for 31 years as a biologist and wildlife planner for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. He has both BASE and Advanced Certification for SAS®9.
How long have you been using SAS®?
More than 34 years.
What SAS products have you used in the past? What products and solutions are you currently using?
Past: Base SAS, SAS/STAT®, SAS/GRAPH®, SAS/ACCESS® Interface to ADABAS, SAS/AF®, SAS Business Intelligence (SAS Management Console, SAS® Enterprise Guide®, SAS Web Report Studio).
Currently: Base SAS, SAS/ACCESS to Oracle, SAS/AF, SAS Enterprise Guide.
What is a problem you have solved using SAS?
I use attribute data sets with beginning and ending dates to create formats that function similar to effective dating in PeopleSoft databases.
What is the most innovative way you have used SAS?
I used SAS to integrate an agency employee time/vehicle usage reporting system with the state accounting system. This allowed managers to view budget and expense information by additional strategic planning, work activity and geographical categories. The prototype was delivered with the help of SAS consulting in nine months and almost within budget.
What is your most memorable SAS moment?
It is difficult to pick one, but submitting my batch jobs on mainframe and monitoring/viewing results via a dumb terminal after convincing the state of North Dakota to purchase SAS. (See my answer to the next question.) I have enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce over my long association with SAS software. I'm sure SAS has made me more productive and valuable to my employers, but it has also brought personal enjoyment and satisfaction. I suspect it would be analogous to a carpenter or other craftsman using his favorite tool.
How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?
When I started my first job, my only access to SAS was to drive 200 miles on the weekends (each way) to use the software on the North Dakota State University mainframe. I would not only need to keypunch my programs and the data, but then wait around for the job/results to be manually filed in user bins. You didn't forget any semicolons in those days. I've used several mainframe operating systems, line feed terminals, PC SAS display manager, SAS Enterprise Guide and other client-server interfaces. The most amazing thing is that some pieces of code written over 30 years ago have continued to perform through all these changes.
Have you ever attended a SAS users group meeting or SAS Global Forum? If yes, please list them.
Yes! I've attended many SAS Users Group meetings, including the Red River Valley SUG (RRVSUG), North Dakota SUG (NDSUG), Twin Cities Area SUG (TCASUG), and Midwest regional (MWSUG) meetings. I attended SUGI30 in Philadelphia in 2005.
Has your work with SAS been influenced by any other members of the SAS community?
Phil Van Dusen of SAS Consulting, Rockville, MD, was the principal developer assigned to my project to integrate an agency employee time/vehicle usage reporting system with the state accounting system. His professionalism influenced me the most and buoyed my belief in "With SAS, all things are possible." There have been numerous other SAS users I've met who were willing to share their knowledge.
If you could point a new SAS user to one resource, what would it be?
Attending users group meetings and SAS training are invaluable, even with today's easy access to digital information.