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An Ounce of Prevention
Whatever It Takes

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

I believe that standardisation and consistency are crucial to a company's computing environment. When no two computers or applications are set up the same way, it's far more difficult to identify and resolve problems, especially over the phone. I therefore emphasise consistency very heavily.

One area where we put this into practice at H&A is workstation setup. We used Ghost (owned by Symantec at the moment) to set up all new workstations identically. This means that when someone from, say, Cleveland called with a problem, we had a fighting chance of knowing how the computer was at least supposed to be configured. It also allowed us to set up new computers very quickly--for any office. We now use an unattended-setup-based process instead of Ghost (Ghost has become less workable with newer operating systems), but the principle is the same.

Another area where consistency is vital is application setup. At H&A we use WinInstall for desktop application delivery in all offices. By using WinInstall, an application is installed exactly the same way every time.

I even advocate buying identical hardware as long as possible. I prefer to buy a single model until it's discontinued, and only then move to the next model. All the quirks of that model quickly become known. This means one less variable to worry about when troubleshooting problems.

I have come to expect and rely on consistency, but it appears that it's not a very common feature at other companies. I can understand how that can happen. Consistency depends on an iron-fisted attention to detail, backed up by a single, coherent vision. Clearly staff turnover would make that difficult or impossible; each new person brings their own slant on how things should be done.

Copyright © 2002 Lisa Nelson. Last Modified: 3 March 2004 Back to Top