Please note: I have closed Dilbeck consulting. It seems that consulting is no longer in my future. I'm leaving this page up, however, in case you may be interested in what was a very big part of my life for the last three decades.
I've recently taken a break for several years from consulting. During this time I spent quite a bit of time working with non-profit organizations and learning a lot more about blacksmithing and other metalsmithing.
I intended to re-open my consulting business in 2002, but for various reasons that I won't go into here, I've decided not to do that.
I am no longer taking computer consulting assignments, but I do offer online marketing consulting to small business owners in Murphy, NC. If you're interested in talking to me about this, you can contact me at Murphy Connections.
Philosophy of Consulting
First, I have enough experience to be confident in my abilities to find a solution and implement a system to serve your needs. You can also expect it to be different from just about any other proposal you'll receive for a project.
I am not hawking a particular set of tools or a proprietary system I've developed that I'm just trying to resell to you. My goal is to solve a problem, implement a solution, and move on. I'm not trying to make you dependent upon me so that you'll have to call me back every few weeks to maintain your system. Some consultants try to get you locked into their proprietary system so that you have to come back to them repeatedly. That's a good thing for the consultant, especially if he likes taking expensive vacations, driving a new car, and owning a large house. I'm a simpler person. I want to be paid fairly for my work, but I'm not out to try to get rich on each project.
In most cases, I've been able to tailor a solution to a specific problem using tools that I've never used before. That means I have to learn new skills and develop a new toolset for many projects. The benefit for you is that I'm able to search for the best tools to use for your project. I charge you for my productive time, not for educating myself. So, I don't charge you for a phone call or answering your emails. I don't charge you for reading manuals or learning a new programming language or database system. I will charge you for actually working on your project, up to the cap we may agree upon before the project starts.
When the project is done, I want to take some time off and then move to the next project. I'm an analyst and implementor and not an administrative type of person. I like to tackle a problem and wrestle it into submission. I don't like to do the same task over and over, day in and day out, for the rest of my life. I'd rather take the risks of exploring the unknown rather than suffer the boredom of job security.
I have been using and programming computers since 1969. I've programmed in many computer language dialects on a variety of hardware platforms. You're invited to see a summary of some of my Consulting Experience that deals with computers, education, and other activities that I think are related to consulting.
Over the decades, I've programmed mainframes, minicomputers, and a variety of microcomputers. Now, personal computers are more powerful than any of the mainframes I programmed in the 60s and 70s, the Internet is accessible from more and more locations, and Intranets are showing up in even small businesses and home offices.
I've decided not to re-open my consulting business and offer my services to individuals and small businesses who want to use Macintosh and Unix-based computers for business purposes.
In the Fall of 2001, Apple released Mac OS X 10.1 and, in my opinion, it is the very best platform for small offices and home businesses. It combines the ease of use of the Macintosh and the power of BSD Unix in a very powerful and relatively inexpensive computer system.
I know that there are many more Windows users on this planet than Macintosh users, but I don't support Windows systems or Microsoft products.
In the past, I was happy to provide any or all of the following services for your business needs.
Training -- either individually or in a classroom setting -- can be personalized to your needs, rather than you having to go take a standard class and then trying to adapt your newfound knowledge to your particular business. Customized training costs more, but it saves you lots of time and frustration. The cost and scope of customized training is negotiable.
I will be happy to diagnose troubles with your system and suggest solutions, or, at your request, implement them for you. When I say system, I mean it in the older sense: the totality of your computers, networks, operatings systems, applications, and personnel. I do not diagnose nor repair hardware. I'm strictly a software kind of guy.
New Systems Development
Do you have a need for a system that can be customized to your specific requirements? I'd be happy to talk to you about locating, installing, customizing, or creating a solution that suits your needs.
Do you already have computers and software from more than one supplier? Would you like for all of it to work together? Perhaps I can be of help.
Database Design and Implementation
Do you have all of your information scattered in various and sometimes inaccessible formats? Would you like to have all of it available to anyone in your office (depending upon their security access levels) and more easily maintainable? I can help you design a new system or convert a legacy system. Whether you want a single-user, multi-user, or client/server solution, I can probably help.
Web Site Development
Eventually, every business will need a website, mailing list, and other ways of easily and inexpensively reaching your customers, clients, patients, or patrons. I have experience in working with lots of different companies, and I will do my best to make the website fit your company rather than forcing your company into a template used for everyone else, the way some web designers work.
I have experience creating and implementing websites, submitting to search engines, building traffic to your site, and adding additional capabilities that many web designers can't offer.
I don't do fancy splash pages, annoying pop-ups, or java doo-dads that detract from your business aims. The purpose of a business website is to get your message across to your visitors, make information available to help them decide that you're the company they want to work with, and not to impress them with my skill at adding distracting bells and whistles.
On the other hand, if your business requires audio, video, or other features to get your message across, I'm willing to discuss how we can work together to provide that to your customers.
I recognize that I'm not the most artistic web designer and that's why I have associated with several talented people who can provide the artwork and consistent look for a quality site, while I provide the technical services that make it work better for you. I'm a programmer and a right-angle kind of guy, so I prefer sites that are simple, easy to read, and easy to navigate, and are accessible for anyone using any browser version 3 or later.
It isn't too difficult, nor time consuming, to put a more attractive face on it, if your prefer. I will argue, however, that a website should provide information, be easy to use, easy to navigate, and sell your products or services. I'm not willing to put in flashy things or bells and whistles that will detract from the useability of the site.
Reasonable vs. Cheap
The scope, duration, and implementation of the project is negotiable. I'm easy to work with -- usually -- and I'll do my best to help you find a solution in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost.
Please note, in my lexicon reasonable does not equate to cheap. You'll be able to find people who will agree to do similar work for less money. There's no doubt about that. You'll also find folks who'll agree to do it for much more than I charge. I charge reasonable rates and I bill you only for the work I perform. So, if you want cheap, don't bother to call me. If I take on a project, I want to do it as well as I can, not always be watching the clock to make sure I can cover my expenses.
Start small and grow
If you'd prefer to start with a pilot project or a study, that's fine, too. I don't mind taking the time for you to evaluate my abilities and see if we can work together. After all, a major systems implementation can easily affect your business for the next decade, and that takes some serious consideration before commiting.
On the other hand, if you want me to develop a design for a project and then you hire someone else to create and implement it, don't come crying to me if it doesn't work the way you wanted. In these cases, my rate is doubled -- at a minimum -- for going in and fixing someone else's mess and I won't consider a cap on such a project. I've had to do this too many times, and I don't need the headaches, sleeplessness, and ill-will associated with such boondoggles.
I prefer to work on a project basis. I'll be happy to talk to you (at no charge for the initial meeting) and consider a solution to your problem and a price for the project.
For small projects and training, the fees and schedule are negotiable, and payment will be due in two stages: 50% up-front non-refundable deposit to cover the expenses to get started on your project, and the remainder upon completion and acceptance.
For larger projects, if you choose to accept my proposal, I require a 20% non-refundable retainer to start the project and I'll bill against that retainer at $100.00 per hour. Several subsequent payments will be made based upon a schedule of deliveries that will cover another 60% of the project. The schedule and milestones are negotiable. The final 20% is payable upon completion and acceptance of the project.
Even though it is often not in my best interest, I'm willing to discuss a cap on a project's costs. If I complete the project early, you will have a solution earlier than expected at a previously agreed upon cost. If it turns out to be much more difficult than I expected, I stop billing when we reach the cap and the rest of the project turns into one more educational experience for me. It is likely that a project will take longer to complete than expected. This cap protects you from unexpected difficulties and extra costs.
I choose not to work for government entities other than schools nor for individuals with non-business problems or projects.
For Further Information...
You will find it much easier to contact me via email than by phone. I'll be happy to come to your business in Cherokee County, North Carolina, and discuss your project with you in person at no charge. If you are located outside Cherokee County, I'll be happy to meet with you, but you must pre-pay travel expenses and a per diem if I stay overnight. I won't bill any time for the initial consultation, however.
If you would like more information or if you have any questions I can answer, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.