Thursday, April 5, 2012

Six Of One, Half Dozen Of The Other

There is this popular expression of unknown origin that I frequently use. "Six of one, half dozen of the other" is just a different way of saying something simply doesn't really matter. Faced with two equally good options, you are more or less indifferent and would be happy with either one. Any choice is a good one, as long as you pick one.

This is how I often feel about a selection of a technology or process standard. Today, much of the hardware and even common software systems are essentially commodities. There is often a heated debate around which is best and should therefore be designated as the standard across the company. It is easy to spot the ongoing rivalry among fans of particular operating systems or cell phone carriers. Debates extend to internet browsers and a variety of other basic tools. But at the end of the day, what's really important is to make a decision and stick to it.

I can recall the discussions, years ago, at a company that lacked any personal computer standards. At that time, the predominant choices for desktop and notebook computers were either HP, Dell or IBM. The choices obviously would be somewhat different today.

But at the time, among the IT professionals throughout the organization, each brand  had a number of strong supporters and a group of fairly vocal detractors. Certainly each of the brands offered a wide range of models with a variety of unique features people found very attractive. The differential in cost was minimal and each manufacturer would regularly introduce new, faster, cheaper models, often leap-frogging the others.

So the question became how do we choose. Well, for me, it was six of one, half dozen of another. The company happened to own more of one of these brands and after fairly brief negotiations this allowed us to put a volume purchase agreement in place and choose it as the standard.

In my view, it wasn't worth an extensive amount of research or debate. We chose one horse to ride and began to accrue the benefits almost immediately. There were far more pressing needs in the company.

Certainly there will be other, more critical evaluations where the technology or application is more complex and will have greater implications or major impact on the company and its operations. This is where you should spend your time and energy. Don't lose sight of the business.

Remember, the cash register has to work, but it is just a tool to facilitate a transaction. Actually selling your merchandise is what will make or break your company.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC