1 Reply Latest reply on Nov 2, 2015 11:53 PM by Extensitech

    Assistance Needed for a Computer Technician Database


      Hello forum,


      This is my first post and I am new to the community. It's good to be here.


      Here's a quick disclaimer, I work for a Computer Repair store and we were, up until recently, using an old version of FMP (6 I believe). The database we were using to track our jobs and repairs worked for years and that did the job well. But we have finally decided to make the leap to the latest version for a few unimportant reasons.


      So I spent some time familiarising myself with Filemaker and started work on creating a new database and with the help of the internet I have been able to recreate the same database we once used but using the newest software. That's fine. No problems. But...


      We have been thinking about our productivity with the database and I think we would like to try a different setup. But I need your help.


      Let me try my best to explain our workflow, currently we do the following.


      1. Customer brings computer in, we create a new entry.

      2. Customer fill out form prints and customer write down what's wrong and their contact info

      3. We input customer data, computer data, faults and symptoms with any added information necessary.

      4. Print out two forms with the above details, one for the customer and one for ourselves.

      5. Finish job, make notes and print out completion form when the device is ready for collection.


      This is okay, but each job has a Job Number, that increases by one every time we create a new job (i.e 18962) we are able to search for customer name, detail etc to find any returning customers and create a form using the previous input data.


      What we were thinking of trying is this, instead of creating just a job number, we actually create a customer "card file" and within this card file we create jobs or tasks. So when a customer returns with a new issue in need of fixing, we can ask if they have been into our store before. Find their "card file", and quickly see any other tasks they have had done in our store all in the one screen.


      The part I don't understand how to do, or if its even possible, is how to create a new customer (essentially a new entry) and THEN create new jobs within that customers "card file" with its own, unique job number (or serial) so that we can do a FIND on the individual number when customers call etc.


      Hopefully I'm making sense, if not feel free to ask any additional questions and I'll do my best to answer them.


      Thanks in advance for any assistance given!

        • 1. Re: Assistance Needed for a Computer Technician Database

          It sounds as though you only have one table, for Jobs? (I hope I'm not misunderstanding, and oversimplifying, your challenge.)


          If so, you'll want a second table for Customers, where you keep the customers' current information.


          In Jobs, instead of entering all the customer info, you'll want a foreign key for Customers, and a relationship where the primary key in customers equals the foreign key in Jobs.When the user enters the foreign key, you can look up the customer's current info, as needed, into the Job. On a Customer layout, with a portal of related Jobs, if you add a new job FM will set the foreign customer key in Jobs automatically.


          This could be the tip of the iceberg for you, though. Generally, add a new table if A) the thing you're trying to track is a thing in and of itself, like customers or B) there is potentially a one-to-many relationship within your data, like one customer having many jobs. Linking those tables together gives you a lot more flexibility and makes your data easier to work with than having a "flat" file where a lot of data is repeated, or worse, differs because it's entered inconsistently.


          Other possible additional tables immediately come to mind: Might you want a table of computers, so you could track when the same computer comes back to you? One customer (especially a business) may have several computers. One computer may be the subject of many jobs.


          You mentioned contact info, as well. One customer may have many phone numbers, addresses, emails or whatnot, as well.


          Just generally speaking, organizing your data into the right tables, and relating them properly, at the beginning will lead to better, more flexible workflows and interface. Starting from the workflow/interface and adjusting your data as you go and as needs arise will tend to make your solution less flexible and more "locked in".



          Chris Cain