One idea to remember, experts are not normally local folks or within the company. You need someone from outside the company to make the suggestion to the right person.
You seem to know as we do that Filemaker could make your life much easier. Keep watching for an opportunity.
MichealAlex Where are you from? Maybe someone local can visit you? Or remote visits might work too.
Hi MichealAlex,Another option would be to get in touch with your local FileMaker sales representative and arrange for them to come in for a meeting with the decision makers. Leave it to them to make the sales pitch and they can also advise on local consultants who will be best placed to help you out.
1) Download the demo version if you don't have a licensed copy
2) Download one of the free productivity solutions most appropriate to your business
3) Import 100 records from an existing Excel file for your business
4) Quickly make a custom layout or two appropriate to a common company task (include the company logo for effect!)
5) Place the db (set-up for sharing) in a common server area
6) Download a demo FM copy for a co-worker in cahoots with you, and have both of you logged in to the db
7) Have the IT people come take a look-see.*
8) Try, as hard as you can, not to rub the fact that you did all of this in less than an hour into the face of the IT guys!:smileysurprised:
9) E-mail some links to custom-solution providers (or consultants)
10) Make subtle hints around the office (in earshot of your supervisor) about spreadsheets being "sooo '80s", "moving beyond spreadsheets", "productivity & efficiency", "repurposing & leveraging existing business data", and anything else pertinent to your position (and that of your co-workers) and the business**
*Don't forget to invite your supervisor to the demo
**Remind your supervisor about your role in making the place a FileMaker database (not spreadsheet) organization around the time for job-performance evaluations and pay-raise discussions!:smileyhappy:
Small town, big business. Town is Arcadia in WI.
One thing to remember in Big buisness....Bottom Line!!!
You have to approach this in a manner that involves getting your Managemnet on your side, otherwise your stuggle will be twice as hard with your IT Department.
I would pick one or two of the excel projects that are user intensive operations, do an investiagtion on how much time & resource is required for each & produce a report that indicates the cost of the operaton to the buisness.
Next develop a Filemaker alternative but make sure you get help from a lead user(involving users at this stage gives them ownership & can be your allie).
On completion produce a comparison report indicating the time & cost savings of the two options (Excel v Filemaker).
At this stage is important that you indicate the benefits to the buiness in terms of time & cost savings & benefits such as freeing up users time to do other tasks.
When you are happy with your results send your report to both the IT Department & your Management at the same time. This way Management can see the bottom line benefits to the buisness & this alone will mean your IT department will find it hard reject this as an alternative as Management would drive the reques.
A word of warning to yourself! be prepared.. make sure you understand what is involved in developing Filemaker Solutions & how to support it if you are the one doing the development.. once you start on something like this is can be infectious & you can easily find yourself upto your neck in new work on top of your existing duties. Have a back up plan.. source yourself an alternative Developer & get an indication of costs just case you feel you cannot effectively take on this type of project.
Hope this helps
- demo the simple sorting of a wide Excel sheet, but leave a few gaps in the data so that Excel 'guesses' the wrong number of columns to grab as the whole data set. The end of the 'marquee' will be off the RHS of the screen, but it's ok - no-one ever looks there, do they?
- Sort it by 'Column B' or whatever, perform a few more spreadsheet manoeuvres, and then present the greatest pile of tripe they ever saw, because Excel happily sorted 75% of the fields for each record, but left the other 25 % right where they were. And never told you. And can't be recovered. And otherwise looked perfectly OK.
- Have someone open an Excel file as the second user and be able to as 'read only'. Only one person work at a time? Ridiculous.
- Have someone open the spreadsheet to pick up something 'live', like what to ship out this week. To be slightly more productive, and avoid the mild pain of constantly closing and re-opening the sheet, they just leave it open in the background, checking religiously every few hours for any updates. And - amazingly - no updates ever seem to come. ("What? You only use the Excel database for *dead* information?")
- Demo a decent-sized Excel sheet replete with the necessary 'Relational database tools' such as LookUps. Change the formula in just one of the LookUp cells, and while the whole thing re-calculates, go boil the kettle, have a haircut, put your children through college...
- While you're at it, try and organise Excel into a database requiring more than 65,000 records. (Compare that with Filemaker's capacity, and weep.) And even if you can manage that, just try and pivot-table the data.
- Open the FM file on a Windows PC. Have someone else open it on a Mac; same time, same data, no hassle. (Note: When IT depts hate Filemaker it's only because it's this kind of Black Magic that makes them realise that mere mortals can rapidly develop seriously useful work tools all by themselves. You could have someone open it in Linux on a 3rd PC, but you'd have to have the Cardiac Ambulance standing by for them.)
- Acknowledge that Excel's pivot tables are awesome. Set up a simple little button in your FM interface and have it automatically open an Excel sheet, suck live data from the FM database, and display it in filtered, sub-summaried, pivoted mode in Excel - whatever tool in Excel they know and love is also available to them, to seamlessly add an 'Excel user interface' to the power of Filemaker.
- Set up a database in Excel and in FM. Have a 'Power-user Challenge', like:
"At the click of a button, change to the correct table (worksheet), ask for user input, perform a find (filter) based upon that input, show a meaningful dialogue if no found records, export to Excel only some of the fields from the found set, and e-mail the resulting Excel file to a range of managers.". One Goliath to write it in VBA or similar, one David to script it in Filemaker. Oh, hold on... maybe I'm starting to see why your IT department hate Filemaker so much. But maybe the Business Managers will, for exactly the same reasons, see sense...
It might be interesting that a dog can walk on its hind legs, but it doesn't make it desireable, nor elegant. Excel is a spreadsheet that can be contorted to look like a database. But Filemaker is a database. Stick to what you're good at - and Filemaker is an excellent database.
Best of luck,
Now those are some good ideas...
I think I will develop a program, then just distribute it and watch the desire grow. I know once I create one with some simple buttons and a summary or two, it wont take long after that (I hope). I have been using File Maker for almost ten years now (since 5 first came out) and I remember the day when first introduced. I was skeptical then as well, just not anymore.
Thanks for all the good info, I will try some of them. Wish me luck.