8 Replies Latest reply on Oct 31, 2008 12:16 PM by banterer

    How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?

    banterer

      Title

      How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?

      Post

      While I believe myself to be capable of developing an elegant solution for my needs, being new to this and a perfectionis is just not a good combination if I want to get it done in this century. So, can you more experience FM people tell me how one goes about creating a spec and then what kind of search terms to I use to find the appropriate category of 'solutions' for my needs?

       

      We are a small manufacturing company and ideally would like a cross-platform (if cross-platform poses a challenge, then we would prefer a mac based system but would be open to listen to why a pc based filemaker db would be work just as well), relational filemaker db to handle the:

       

      accounting - billing, invoicing, payables

      • generate emailable pdf quotes (this may not need to be programmed since it is easy to do on a mac)
      • generate emailable pdf invoices (same as above, it may not be needed)
      • aging of invoices so that it could automatically generate reports for past due invoices,
      • aging of payables so that we could enter payment terms and have the system remind us when to pay in order to get out discounts and/or pay within terms if there are no discounts


      shipping:

      • integration with UPS worldship or elimination of worldship and direct connection with the thermal label printer if that is an option. If integrated with UPS, it would need to retrieve the shipping cost from UPS for invoicing
      • calculate shipping costs based on current UPS rates
      • generate bills of lading for LTL shipments for freight carriers such as ABF, FDX freight and UPS freight
      order entry:
      • manual entry of telephone orders and
      • regularly checking for online orders and automatically importing the contact info data as well as the different line items that customers might order
      • online ecommerce sales - this is not necessary as long as it can simply reach into and retrieve our online orders for the proper data to create the UPS labels
      • and if possible the receiving and therefore inventory of raw materials as well as materials we happen to buy and redistribute.

      One consideration is that UPS software is PC only so unless the developer can write software similar to NRG's Mac based filemaker UPS module, they would either have to purchase and integrate their module or write one themselves.If that is not an option, UPS' software would have to run on a pc and probably use an ODBC scheme to retrieve the data from UPS' Worldship software.

       

      We now use quickbooks for our accounting so an elegant import solution would enable a less disruptive transition.

       

      I would prefer to have the database in a form that would allow me to tweak things as I went along.

       

      Thanks in advance for your input or suggestions,

      Jorge

        • 1. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
          TSGal

          Jorge:

           

          Thank you for your post.

           

          There is a lot of information in your post, so let me address each point.

           

          Yes, FileMaker can generate PDF invoices.  Pull down the File menu and select "Save/Send Records As -> PDF..."

           

          This can be programmed into a script step using the command "Save Records as PDF".

           

          You can create Calculation fields that use today's date and subtract a date field to get number of days past due.  You can then evaluate that result with "30" (for 30 days past due) or another number.  The same type of calculation could be used to remind you when you need to pay.

           

          FileMaker Pro does have the ability to use ODBC/JDBC to link to other databases.  From a later description, this could be used with the UPS database.  I have not had experience with using the UPS database file, so maybe someone else on the forum with experience with UPS can reply.

           

          You can set up a database table with password privileges that allows users only to access certain layouts to take telephone orders.  If customer information is not found in a related table, you can set up the link with the ability to add records to the related table.

           

          You can have an Inventory table related to the order table to see how many parts are available, or when you need to back order.  You can have a Raw Inventory table to use the parts, and then put the finished product into a Finished Goods Inventory table.

           

          At any time, you can go into a Layout and change the field placements.  You can also create several different layouts.  In addition, you can add and remove fields from the table.  In essence, you can definitely "tweak things" as you go along.

           

          If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask.

           

          TSGal

          FileMaker, Inc. 

           

          • 2. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
            DBUser
              

            Our company recently set up a FileMaker warehouse and inventory database which sends information to our UPS system for shipping purposes.  It works very well for us.  When we started the project, we contacted our UPS representative to inquire about the possibility.  One of their technical people came out to meet with us and got us set up and running very quickly (after the database itself was created).  They can probably provide all of the items you mentioned in your post.

             

            We have no need for cross-platforming with our UPS system.  However, the consultant who built our inventory database did at one time tell me about a shipping program that can integrate with FileMaker and the UPS system.  Sorry, I do not recall the software name.  You may be able to find it by searching the internet.

            • 3. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
              mtolman_1
                

              Check out http://www.nrgsoft.com/

               

              They have a solution that will probably fit your needs and is fully integrated with UPS and FedEx 

              • 4. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
                banterer
                  

                Thanks mtol,

                 

                Their solution sounds good but as I recall they have some $40 monthly fee attached to it which I don't want to subscribe to.

                • 5. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
                  FedExTech
                    

                  (fair disclaimer I work in FedEx customer automation)

                  If you want a Mac based solution, you will have to look at using a browser based application.  Both FedEx and UPS offer up build it yourself API options which won't be platform dependant.  I know our options don't come with a price tag, I don't think theirs does either but am not sure about it.  If you can stomach a PC at your shipping location, you should be able to use the ODBC options in version 9 to query order information out of FileMaker into the carrier applications.  Your local carrier sales rep can get a hold of a tech who can go over specifics with you.

                  • 6. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
                    banterer
                      

                    FDX Tech,

                     

                    Is there a reason why a Mac would not be able to use the same ODBC technique to talk to Worldship? If this is happening over a network, do the apps know/care which platform is asking for the info?

                     

                    Thanks,

                    Jorge

                    • 7. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
                      FedExTech
                         You are correct about it not caring about where the data comes from.  So long as it can run a good SQL query.  The shipping applications, however, are written to run in a windows environment so that is the hook.
                      • 8. Re: How to spec out a Filemaker solution and find a competent provider?
                        banterer
                           Ok I see what you mean. Yeah, I am not so averse to PCs that they cannot be used here, we have several here I just don't like them on principle [my principles]. We do have one running UPS and QB but I would rather try a new solution that is mac based or one that can be run on both [hence the filemaker engine] so that I in particular do not have to work on PC in order to get at the data.