Solutions in Search of
On the flip side, our clients and prospects have provided plenty of inspiration to keep us pushing the envelope in these areas, and navel-gazing isnt part of that process.
We have our specialties, but we get calls from all kinds of organizations. As stated in our listing at Filemaker.com, Were always open to new challenges.
In advance of our first meeting, we thought it would be worthwhile to determine if such software was already on the market.
We found three Filemaker solutions, and a Google search can take you to dozens if not hundreds of firms that have developed construction management software.
Its not surprising. Millions of homes have been built, and along the way, more than a few homebuilders have developed various systems to manage the process.
Our prospect had done a little research and development himself, starting with a download of a free thirty-day Filemaker Pro demo.
He had even created a few databases and some really nice graphics, all in a week or so.
His current system consists of hyper-formatted Excel documents, one for each project. It turns out that hes developed solutions for every spreadsheet package that was released in the twentieth century.
Now he envisions the ultimate home construction management database system, and we mean envisions. Hes wants to put it on the market and sell it to others.
We talked about the three Filemaker packages already out there. He had taken a look the high-end (most expensive) one, but it wasnt even close to his vision.
I guess we somehow impressed him, because he called a couple of weeks later for an hour or two of onsite consultation.
He had purchased the program, roughed out the basic diagram and created a few files. We taught him a few things about relationships and value lists. Hes actually quite the programming whiz.
We would typically discourage anyone taking time away from their core mission to develop software. In this case, were convinced that this client is determined to realize his vision, and that he can do so in a few weeks rather than months (with just a little help from us).
The effort will be of benefit to his company for years to come, and it might make a great off-the-shelf solution for others.
Were content to assist in the process, and perhaps help market the product some day.
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Our Filemaker Developers Guide emphasizes that custom solutions can be converted to standalone files that do not require the Filemaker Pro application.
We tested this tool, and we were astounded by the results. Everything looks and functions exactly like the Client/Server version of Filemaker Pro. That includes scripts, imports, exports, calculations, creation and deletion of records, even auto-email features.
These Runtime versions can be installed license-free on any number of computers.
A new prospect has told us that 80 users need access to their job-tracking system, and that means several thousand dollars in licensing fees. What if we identified 10 core Client/Server users and gave Runtime versions to the others?
We could overcome some of the limitations of the Runtime, like simultaneous sharing of databases, by writing scripts that would import live data into the Runtime or export Job Request data to a primary user, just by clicking buttons.
This strategy would significantly reduce licensing fees, and be rather transparent to most end users.
It may not be feasible for everyone, but were open to your ideas.
By all means, lets stay in touch.