Reprinted with permission from the

Kennebec Journal and

Waterville Sentinel newspapers

Sunday, March 11, 2001



Consultants Help Maine Businesses Make 'Sense' of

Computer Technology


BELGRADE LAKES, Maine - For many local businesses, Richard Bourne and Susan Westlake are taking the frustration out of computer technology and putting in good 'common sense'.

Through their company, Common Sense Computing, Inc., Bourne and Westlake are helping clients locate, implement and understand the best technology for their businesses. Bourne and Westlake stand out among the ever-increasing crowd of computer consultants in many ways. They are willing to "hold customers' hands" through the technology process and tell them when technology isn't the answer, and they refrain from selling software and other products.

These two consultants are dedicated to making technology easy and stress-free for the businesses they serve. "We will go the extra mile to understand a client's business so that they can understand their goals for technology. We help them be more productive," said Westlake.

"We don't sell hardware or software," said Bourne. "Almost everyone who is in the computer consulting business has a relationship with a supplier, but we don't. We are objective. We aren't obligated to any supplier. Because some companies can only sell the products they represent, they implement solutions that aren't appropriate for their customers."

Bourne, 63, of Belgrade Lakes, and Westlake, 49, of Readfield, founded Common Sense Computing in 1995. Since then the company has attracted nearly 50 clients across the state of Maine. They cater to a vast array of customers, such as school systems, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and the state legislature.

Because Bourne and Westlake share 40 years of experience in computer technology, they are able to serve the needs and answer the questions of their diverse range of customers. "Our biggest strength is that we have many years of experience in the whole range of computing environments from mainframes in large organizations to single PCs ," said Bourne. "We have a systems approach."

Bourne, who is vice president of the company, received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Before co-founding Common Sense Computing, Bourne worked for 28 years as an information systems consultant with Kodak in Rochester, N.Y. He moved to Belgrade Lakes in 1987 after leaving Kodak to start his own consulting firm.

Bourne, instead, soon joined Digital Equipment Corporation in Augusta, where he worked in information systems with Westlake. When SCI bought the company, Bourne left with Westlake to form Common Sense Computing, Inc.

Westlake, president of the company, received a bachelor of arts degree from Mount Holyoke College. She also has a master's in business administration from the University of Southern Maine and over 18 years of experience at Digital in information systems development and business systems analysis. Westlake has established and operated three small businesses and served as a mentor through the Women's Business Development Corporation.

With their residences in Belgrade Lakes and Readfield, traveling to serve their clients from Portland to Bangor is easy for Common Sense Computing. Bourne and Westlake are also able to meet the needs of customers in locations statewide through a network of associates, who help with computer issues that require specialized assistance.

Bourne and Westlake offer a range of information technology services to their customers, such as the planning, design, and implementation of computer systems, the development of websites, operational support for desktop and server computers, and training in software applications. They are particularly adept at helping clients better integrate their information systems with their business and managing projects for clients.

"The typical small business needs full-time people in information technology for a brief period of time, but can't afford to hire someone," explained Bourne. "Also, a lot of our clients don't have the time to research what's out there for software; which is where we come in."

Common Sense Computing often helps companies that have never been computerized enter the age of technology, without a lot of hassle. "We look at a business's processes and systems so that they don't have to reinvent the wheel when they computerize," said Westlake.

Bourne and Westlake don't just handle the small stuff, either. For the simplest problem to the most major technological challenge, the computer consultants are willing to suggest and implement strong solutions.

Much like their business integrity, Bourne and Westlake's major focal point for their services remain clear: provide consulting in information technology to businesses and organizations, to help them become more effective.

Bourne and Westlake will continue to serve Maine businesses with their special, no-pretense, friendly approach to computer consulting. "One of the keys we use is to try to understand our clients' companies and how software and information technology can best help them," said Bourne. "We determine how technology fits in and what makes the most sense."