I was working in a large corporate IT environment. We had implemented a great FileMaker project management solution that had been in use for years to track all the important information associated with thousands of jobs.
An IT executive decided to replace this FileMaker solution with something that was considered more of an “enterprise solution”. To him this meant a web-based application with an industrial strength Microsoft SQL Server backend. (Sometimes I agree this might be necessary…but in this case it was not.) Call me cynical, but I do believe that some of these major decisions are made on the golf course by buddies that want to help each other’s companies and do not have the knowledge required to make a good technical decision.
Anyway, a new company was brought in with their project management solution and a team of developers that were tasked with customization, importing of data from the existing system, and implementation of the product including training, etc. I was interfacing directly with the new developers to assist with reproducing similar functionality as the original solution and to import the existing data when the developer threw up his hands and said “I hate FileMaker!” “Why?” I asked. “Because it does things we just can’t do.” was his answer. He was finding it very difficult to replicate functionality that is inherent to how FileMaker works as a client…functionality that puts power in the hands of users to find and work with data in ways that can take hundreds of hours to replicate in a pure web-based solution.
The new application was eventually implemented. Soon after, it was rejected by users as more difficult to use and less useful that the original FileMaker solution. After a few months, the company that made the product was bought out by another vendor and they killed the application. So in the interim of deciding what new direction was necessary, the FileMaker solution was reinstated.
I’d estimate up to $2.5 million dollars of money was thrown at this problem with the major result being an incredible waste and loss of productivity…all because FileMaker was not considered to be an “enterprise solution”. The lack of understanding of what FileMaker was and what problems it is good at solving caused this issue.
FileMaker solves many problems effectively and with elegance. Since FileMaker is a tool to build totally customized software, it all depends on the quality of the developers that build the solution. Although, FileMaker can handle more users, FileMaker excels in the workgroup space where there are often less than 250 users…meaning a smaller company or a department within a large corporation.
Knowing when to deploy FileMaker to solve a problem and take advantage of its capabilities is the key to winning. When it does fit, you’ll hear the end users and IT management say in unison “We LOVE FileMaker!”