Hi, my name is Melinda Bozak. I'll be contributing a column called Practical Data Entry to the Mailing Systems Technology e-newsletter on a regular basis. Having worked for a printer/mailer for 17½ years, I began as a mailing/bindery department worker before the computer age changed everything. Through the years I have learned what was necessary to help our mailing department evolve. Realizing the necessity to be computer literate, through books, webinars, mentors and trial and error, I have learned numerous computer programs, and have kept up with all postal changes. The position I now hold is Mailing Lists Manager.'


I believe that probably means different things to different companies depending on the organization/business. At the company where I work it includes data processing, variable data, document layouts, postal regulations knowledge, quality control, drop shipment scheduling, and list outsourcing, just to name a few. What is great about it is that it is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. It can be mastered to a point, but things will always change so the challenge never ceases.


I never understood why the data geeks' of mailing have never really gotten any mention. Everything starts with us so I thought that was rather odd. In this column I plan to talk about some of the specific challenges - and pleasures - of working in the mailing data processing department. Since it is the beginning of the New Year I will accentuate the positive.


When we can look at it from the perspective of the customer and know that we've assisted them in the increase of their sales, or donations, or that there was a tremendous turnout at their big event, we can take great pride in the service we've provided to help them reach their goal. To hear that the many hours of data processing on the donation appeal for a food bank resulted in an outperformance of the previous year, that is a feel-good moment. - Especially in the economic times we are now facing. When we've helped our production department to increase their output through a more efficient procedure, or helped the sales force show their customer the best way to save on their postage, we have reason to be proud of the work we do.


There will always be challenges with postal regulations, customers and co-workers. I've been fortunate in that I've been on both sides of the wall'. I have worked the production side of mailing so I have an understanding of their needs. And I've been in the office and have heard the sales force get grief when something has gone wrong, so I see the importance of understanding what they need also.


Understanding the needs of others and communicating what is necessary to meet those needs creates a teamwork mentality. As 2009 begins may it be our collective resolution to increase our service, knowledge, communication, and understanding that we may all help each other to find success in this New Year.


I hope to hear from you with questions and suggestions on specific topics to discuss.