I would like to keep the monthly cost of the product as low as possible but I have seen some seriously expensive options banded about the web of some £20+ per user.
I'm not sure what FLT licensing runs abroad, but here in the states a 100 pack of users for FLT is around $8,750/year. That equates to around $7.29 a month per user for your filemaker licensing. That doesn't include server and hosting cost, which can easily add $200 a month (which equates to less than $.25 per user per month). Let's round it off and say it would cost $10/user/month for your licensing and hosting.
So that L20 per user is looking a lot more sensible now if you're trying to make a profitable business.
Basically, if you want to release something at the lowest cost, you need to build it on a low cost platform. FileMaker is not always a low-cost platform, it is a rapid development platform where the value is gained by a) you being able to build the product yourself without high level coding experience; and, b) you can do it faster than competitors.
Its quite possible at this point that you can use the FileMaker app as a proof-of-concept and hire someone to build it out into a SaaS web application for you. You would have a high initial development cost, but your ongoing cost-per-user and hardware requirements would probably decrease (think $.20 per user/month instead of $10, that's a $980 difference every month for 100 users).
But if you're looking for a host to get up and operational immediately, I'd look for a consultant that can setup an AWS cloud server for you, and get an FLT license from FileMaker. You can get one for as little as five users, and it includes the server license.
There are other consideration for SaaS-sellers you may not be thinking about, like what happens to that copy of filemaker on your users machine after they cancel their subscription? Have you tried out your solution in WebDirect yet to see if that's viable?
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You will need a business plan to look at the costs and see where FM fits. FM has marketing assistance through its "Made for FileMaker" program. And there is FM's "Solution Bundle Agreement" where if you get your solution approved by FileMaker, you can resell FM software at a greatly reduced amount assuming this really is a vertical solution where the solution is the same for everyone. Talk to Stephen Day at FM about the SBA program. I'm not sure who is in charge of the Made for FileMaker program.
Thanks for your advice - most welcome.
The figure you quote of a rounded $10 per user pm doesn't frighten me (as a maximum) but I wouldn't want the whole 100 from day one so I don't know how this will impact on the prices. There is just one point. I assume the reference to L20 in para 2 is in fact British Pounds as I quoted but that is per user per month which is why I ruled this out and almost abandoned the project as not being commercially viable due to the low numbers involved. Good point about the Filemaker licence if the subscriber ceases to subscribe. This is really why I want advice because I have read somewhere that the WebDirect can have limited functionality. So with the run-time solution out, the WebDirect having limited functionality (if that is correct) and the FM hosted Server being too expensive I was becoming very dejected. However, if it can be done for [say] $10 pu/pm that would be Ok and if WebDirect could compete on price and deliver a working product that would be even better but I simply do not know which way to lean.
Thanks for your response I will certainly contact the FM team about the SBA programme. On reflection I should have done more homework on the hosting side well before I engaged with the FM professional to get this product A1. Having seen all the advertising for FM and the different solutions available I just did not comprehend that there wouldn't be a solution for a small business to launch a product at a reasonable cost both to me and the users.
Just goes to show I learn everyday. See also my reply to Mike.
I just did not comprehend that there wouldn't be a solution for a small business to launch a product at a reasonable cost
The "reasonable' cost is never an absolute; it depends on the alternatives, the value the solution brings and so on. For some solutions, an total project cost of several hundreds of thousands of dollars is very reasonable. For other projects $1,000 is too much...
As mikebeargie mentions: if the selling price point is going to be low then you have to tailor your development so that the cost fits that model.
Webdirect’s limitations to the desktop are that you have to be connected to the internet to use it. It doesn’t have native printing or PDF generation (although both can be achieved in some form), and it still doesn’t support some browsers (namely firefox).
The SBA programme Taylor mentions needs quite a commitment, I think - you need to join the Filemaker Business Alliance, buy 10 licences to start with, and commit to at least 50 a year. I sympathise with you over your surprise at the cost of implementing an FM solution.
A large part of the attraction to this application is the ability to print documents in sequential order for funeral services and eliminating possible errors. The documents would be in PDF so does this mean that WebDirect is a total non-starter?
Oh dear! too much for me. Back to the drawing board...
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Currently in WebDirect you need to generate PDFs by using something called the robot method. Where a filemaker pro machine sits and waits for "jobs" to process, creates the PDFs and sticks them into container fields. So a user from WebDirect creates a request, the "robot" makes the PDF, and then the WebDirect user can download those PDFs.
With that though, you can run through and generate an entire package of PDFs using the "append to PDF" functionality, and have the user download a fully-generated PDF package.
So it is possible to accomplish, just requires an extra license of FM Pro and a machine to run it for now.
FMI is working on having Save As PDF work on the server though, they don't speculate when it will be in production though.