Computer/Database Systems Analyst & Network Engineer
I’ve been Crawford Computer Consulting for over 25 years. In 1989, “networking” meant linking up DOS-based computers over coaxial LANTastic networks to a Novell Netware server. RAM was $50 per megabyte, and it would kill someone if you dropped a one gigabyte hard drive on them.
Well, things have certainly changed. With the Internet, all the hands-on devices, updated networking and servers, email, there’s a lot to more to keep up with these days.
In some ways it’s easier.
The advent of remote support for computers especially helps, so I don’t have to run all over town.
In some ways it’s harder.
Many of the devices people use, such as phones and tablets, are not accessible remotely. So we’re right back where we started.
Security is much more important in this digital age: with all the connectivity, things really need to be kept up-to-date.
My main strategy, when working with any new client, is to 1) document the situation, and 2) simplify as much as possible. An organized, consistent, well-documented system, can be maintained much more easily. It minimizes long-term costs, minimizes down-times, and minimizes frustration.
Besides, it makes me look like a hero.
I enjoy working with people to make sure they are comfortable with their systems. Computer systems are only partially about the equipment; they’re mostly about how people are able to work with their equipment.
I want to make sure their systems work like well-oiled machines.
If a client has an emergency, I need to be there for them.
Being available is my philosophy. Sometimes, it can be really important – a legal filing deadline, payroll deposit, medical equipment, point-of-sale operation. If help is not timely, it’s virtually useless.
I also help with residential computer problems. Computer problems can be especially confounding for home users.
I monitor all system backups for my business clients. If I don’t hear from each server every morning, or if there’s a backup failure, I deal with it, usually without even mentioning it. Most often it means restarting the computer or backup unit remotely after hours.
Billing is usually on a time-and-materials basis; that is, by the hour. I have some clients that I’ve worked out a reasonable monthly rate. Once I get a client completely “set up,” it’s then possible to predict what their needs will be and thereby to set a fair average billing.
I’ve had many of my clients for many years. I take a level of ownership. Their lives and their systems (which I treat every bit as if they were my own) are important to me.