Maintaining Reliability

If you do your banking online you will find that occasionally when you go to access your account information, it is sometimes not available…usually during odd hours of the night or early morning. An error message may appear on the screen advising you that the information requested is not currently available due to system ”maintenance”. Later, when get back online to check on your account, all of your account information, such as balance and items posted, has been updated.

With something as important as finances, the reliability you depend on with your bank is what the bank’s reputation rides on. The bank’s ability to maintain your account in a reliable manner is what keeps your business at that particular bank. Not limited to banking, reliability and maintenance are important in business operations. Many business-specific meanings for the words “reliability” and “maintenance” exist, but overall, everything boils down to one standard: without reliability and without maintenance, business is not business as usual.

Generally defined, reliability is the ability of a system to perform and maintain its functions in routine circumstances, as well as hostile or unexpected circumstances (Wikipedia, 2006). From a business perspective, simple words such as “dependable”, “trustworthy”, “consistency” and “repeatability” can better explain what reliability’s meaning really is (Trochim, 2006). A long time client continues business with an organization for the “reliability” the organization provides…for the organization’s ability to either provide the same results time and again, or to provide improved results. With this in mind, the term “maintenance” comes into play.

Maintenance is defined as the act of maintaining or the state of being maintained, and the work of keeping something in proper condition (Webster, 2006). To ensure reliability, an oorganization must maintain the manner in which they provide a service. Microsoft, for example, is constantly “tweaking” the software programs they provide to home and businesses users.

They do this to ensure that their customers can continue to enjoy a secure, hassle-free (for the most part) experience with today’s computer technology. In addition to hiring computer programming and IT experts to maintain their product, Microsoft provides a link on their main website for customers to report any problems they may encounter while using their product, which assists in covering all aspects of performing proper maintenance (Microsoft, 2007). Those little “system update” pop-up’s you receive while doing work on your computer are Microsoft’s way of maintaining your computer software for you…you don’t even have to set a reminder or perform time-consuming research to ensure that your computer has the latest versions of programs available.

Maintenance is not simply about improving a product, but also about making sure that the product continues to be reliable. The “behind the scenes” maintenance of ensuring a great product is what makes a business reliable and successful. In the end, you can have a great product, but if your business is not reliable, you won’t have a business to run.


1.     Merriam-Webster Research Team. (2006) Definition of Maintenance. January 2007

2.     Microsoft Corporation (2006) Microsoft Help and Support. January 2007

3.     Trochim, William M.K. (2006) Theory of Reliability. January 2007

4.     Wikipedia Writing Staff. (2006) Definition of Reliability. January 2007


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