SAS Customer Recognition — Bill Parman
Bill Parman currently works as a programmer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. But he started out in education, spending 11 years as a secondary mathematics teacher (and a track and field coach) in Indiana. During that time he received his master's in education with certification in mathematics. In 1980, Parman left teaching and began his career as a programmer/analyst. After eight years of COBOL and CISCS experience, he was introduced to SAS. From that moment on, Parman says his career was "dominated by SAS." By the time he retires he will have been a SAS user for 28 years.
How long have you been using SAS?
What SAS products have you used in the past and what products and solutions are you currently using?
In the past I have used: Base SAS, SAS/GRAPH, SAS/ACCESS, ODS and SAS/AF. Currently, I am using Base SAS and SAS/ACCESS to interface with SQL Server, DB2 and Teradata. I also make heavy use of SAS macros.
Tell us about a problem you have solved using SAS?
Using Base SAS, SAS macros, SAS/ACCESS and MP CONNECT, I was able to create a driver program for a large and complex report that implements parallel processing with MP CONNECT. The use of MP CONNECT radically reduced processing time.
What is your most memorable SAS moment?
My most memorable SAS moment was the day that I successfully got the driver program (mentioned above) to run. Knowing how to apply MP CONNECT for parallel processing has significantly expanded my applications development capability.
How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?
Given that I started using SAS in the IBM mainframe environment, I have seen SAS evolve into a multiplatform product. I have also seen it change from a batch-oriented reporting solution to a product capable of creating enterprisewide, end-to-end solutions.
Have you ever attended a SAS users group meeting or SAS Global Forum?
I have attended four SouthEast SAS Users Group conferences: Atlanta; Hilton Head, SC; St. Petersburg, FL; and Savannah, GA. I have also attended SUGI three times (San Francisco in 1989, Nashville, TN, in 1990 and Dallas in 1994). I attended SAS Global Forum this year (2012) in Florida.
Has your work with SAS been influenced by any other members of the SAS community?
At Lincoln Life Insurance Co. in Fort Wayne, IN, Jim Nyffeler and Jancie Nicum introduced me to SAS and influenced my early growth as a programmer. During my tenure at Lincoln Life, I attended several SAS classes taught by SAS instructors. I can't remember all their names, but I will always remember a SAS Programming class I attended in 1989 in Chicago where an excellent instructor named Bill helped me understand the program data vector (PDV). Of greatest importance to my current work, I learned a lot in the SAS Macros class, taught by another excellent SAS employee. At BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Harold Klagstad has had, and continues to have, a significant influence on my SAS programming development.
If you could point a new SAS user to one resource, what would it be?
I feel strongly that a new SAS programmer needs to understand how to write a quality DATA step. Although there are many new programming capabilities present in SAS today, as long as one is going to "live" in the Base SAS world, writing a quality DATA step is fundamental and foundational. Recalling my formative years with SAS, I found it very helpful to "live" inside the formats, informats, and function chapters of the Base SAS manual. Without knowing by memory a healthy complement of SAS functions, one is limited in writing clear and efficient code, not to mention making the coding experience unnecessarily cumbersome. Given the countless features of SAS, in order to improve their coding capabilities new users need to do two things: become a student of the language and read the manual.