Results are what counts, not the names or buzzwords.

What matters is the results.

Very often in the computer industry, we find people getting excited about names more than what the names really mean.  A few years ago, the big buzz phrase was "Client/Server".  Most people didn't know what was supposed to be good about Client/Server, they just knew it was "good".  What they didn't realize was the immaturity of the technology, the support nightmares Client/Server created, nor the costs.  People forgot that Client/Server wasn't a goal, it was a means to a goal.

Results have to include not only what works when installed, but also what happens when things go wrong in the future.

Holland Consulting often recommends strange or boring solutions, rather than the current fad.  I do this for a reason -- I'm in this business because I enjoy getting results, not because I like playing with the latest buzzwords.  Actually, I do enjoy playing with the latest technology, but I don't do that at my clients expense.

Computers are a tool to accomplish a job, they are not supposed to be the job.

My goal for computers is very simple -- and strange.  I want computers to reach the point of staplers and phone systems.  Quick, without looking:  What kind of phone system do you have?  What brand stapler?  What brand are your file drawers?  Your photocopier?  Don't know?  I think that is good!  I want computers to "fade into the background" of your business.  Yes, we have a long way to go.

Computers are in your office to help your business do its job.  Odds are, your job is not "using your computer".  The computer is just supposed to be a tool.

Keep it simple, keep it reliable.

Solutions should be as simple and reliable.  Adding complexity to a system rarely enhances the users' experience.  Installing more than the client needs or will use benefits no one except the dealer who oversold.

S**t happens.  Don't hope it won't.  Be ready for it.

The most expensive hardware breaks.  The most perfect design develops problems.  I believe one should be ready for it, don't hope it won't.

I have seen people advocate very expensive solutions with the argument that "It is more reliable!".  My response: "Is it PERFECTLY reliable?  Does it NEVER break?  Does it never get stolen?  Do water or drain pipes over head never burst?  Does it cause the building to never catch fire?".  Now, I'm not suggesting the purchase of junk, but I also don't suggest spending thousands on things that are unlikely to truly improve reliability.  After all, after a point, you start pursuing unlikely problems and neglecting bigger, more likely problems, like theft, flood or other office disaster.  Certain mechanisms should be in place to protect against the physical problems that can occur beyond any plan -- those same systems can provide repair strategy for more "routine" problems.

Knowledge is to share, not to hoard.

Most of the tricks I do, I admit, I learned from other people.  My favorite design feature, Full on-site Redundancy with rapid repair, I learned from a very sharp IT person at a prospective customer (Johnson Controls) back in my Heathkit days.  After I had suggested a big Zenith computer as a server for him, he pointed out his design -- a cheap Zenith system, our bottom line at the time, with a SCSI adapter internally.  To that, he had a pair of external SCSI drives.  "Drive fails?  The mirror drive will keep it running.  Computer fails? Replace it with that one.  And I have NO need for that big of a system."  I wish I could remember this person's name...

As I have benefited from the wisdom and experience of other people, I do not feel it is fair to hold it back from others.  I have no "trade secrets" -- just things you haven't expressed an interest in knowing yet.

An educated customer is a referring customer.

I encourage my clients to learn as much from me as they wish to.  I would rather have my clients stay with me out of satisfaction than be held "hostage" over a system they don't understand the maintenance of.  Some of my clients, I hear from VERY rarely -- just when their needs change and they wished to talk over updates they are considering.  Others require assistance with every new workstation.  I do as much -- or as little -- as my clients  need and desire that I do for them.

I would rather have my clients be happy with the work they receive, so happy they refer me to new clients.

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since June 24, 2000

(C)opyright  2000, Nick Holland, Holland Consulting

Published: 6/8/2000
Revised: 6/24/2000