“Have we outgrown FileMaker?”
This is a concern that we often hear from long term users of FileMaker. However, once we examine the mechanics of such companies, and how they run, it is almost never the case that FileMaker isn’t up to the job. Usually it is the organisation that has failed to keep pace and evolve, rather than the FileMaker product.
There is often the preconception of FileMaker being a DIY product. It is worth considering however, that we are talking about a product that is used by every type and size of organisation including colossal names like Maclaren and Rolls Royce. It’s important to get this into perspective – it depends on your business and your requirements and we would urge you not to be fooled by Sunday supplement business pages and their soundbites. The FileMaker naysayers love to question whether it is “fit for propose” and counsel the adoption of “best of breed” – but what does this mean? Phrases like this can often refer to systems that are used by some very large companies but who in reality have not kept pace with technological developments and are paying far too much for their software.
Let me give an example. Metropolis had implemented SAP as it was considered “best of breed” but a few years later they were close to going bust – in no small part due to the complete lack of management info from SAP. They threw it out and replaced it with FM – saving over £80,000 per year in software fees for a product that was killing them. They are now profitable again !
Others question the scale-ability of FileMaker. I recently visited the head office of Titan Publishing and ForbiddenPlanet.Com who have 47 million records in their FileMaker database. Now I’m not suggesting that this means that big banks need to abandon platforms like Oracle – but I think it means that understanding the current capabilities of a product are more important than listening to partially informed out of date opinion – there’s a place for the right tool.
One company that really understands the benefit of the right tool is McLaren. They have over 100 people using FileMaker.
The wrong methodology. Not the wrong software.
I was recently invited to meet an engineering company that had doubled in size in the last two years and are set to do the same again in the next two. This growth was due to new initiatives implemented by their new MD and new FD. When speaking to them they also thought that perhaps they had outgrown the FileMaker system and that they should be moving to “fit for purpose” software. Their reasoning being that they had one (very talented) member of staff who developed everything in FileMaker. They rightly feared that their entire business operation was dependent on the knowledge inside the head of one person. It wasn’t the man or the software that was inappropriate it was their process and business methodology that needed improvement.
This company was close to spending £2m on a manufacturing ERP system and throwing the baby out with the bath water. Instead they are now updating their existing system and putting in place processes, procedures and documentation to get the ensure return on both previous and future software investment.
Why do we often see companies wasting money on so called “best of breed systems?
We believe that there are two reasons:
- It’s a very noisy market place – what’s happening in the software world moves quickly and everyone claims to have the solution to your problem – and, yes an app to look after you receipts is handy, but if it doesn’t integrate to the rest of your digital life, it becomes part of the problem not the solution.
- Sorry to say, but IT departments and IT advisers can sometimes be part of the problem. Yes, security and stability are important, but thinking that there are only a handful of “best of breed” software brands is now outdated thinking. We live in a dynamic fast developing industry. If you are responsible IT you need to be connected 24/7 and never stop researching and testing – company rules that say we only use ‘tech x” no longer cut it. If I can control my lights, heating, alarm system, underfloor heating and bathroom scales from my iPhone – what’s your excuse for not giving all your field sales people access to all the information they need, all the time?
So what changes should I be making? Making the most of FileMaker 16
Well, FileMaker 16 just came out and yet again they’ve put themselves ahead of the curve.
They have implemented cURL and restful API which in short means is that you can use FileMaker to connect to the rest of your IT infrastructure even better than before. There are many other new features but until we understand where your approach needs improvement they are just that, features – why not join the many other organisations who are calling us to understand how they can benefit from these new capabilities.
It’s great to see that many people are recognising that it’s them who have not kept up, and not FileMaker.