Looking for a bit of ammunition to take to a meeting I have coming up.
To summarise a very long story, I am in the process of using FileMaker to build a LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) for a very niche market over here in the UK to be sold on a monthly user subscription basis. There are only about 400 people spread across 20 odd companies in the UK (and Ireland) that I will be able to sell it to. Why this industry I hear you ask? Well I have been a techie person in this industry for the last 20 years so it is all I know!
Anyway, I know my stuff when it comes to the industry, but I have taken it upon myself to learn the FM language with a bit of help from some mentoring here and there from FM Platinum raining Partners. I took a redundancy package from my previous employers and thought it would be a good idea to use the newly found time to knock this app up. I did not want to pay a developer to do the whole thing for me as I want to be relatively self sufficient in the future, and being "time rich and cash poor" it made the most sense to me. Also good to add an extra string to my bow as I may be able to put together other little apps for other people in the future - who knows ....
I have been working on this for the last 7 months, but am close to finishing the first phase (after which I can hopefully start earning a bit of money). My potential first customer (actually the biggest player in the market with 90 users) is a company I worked with for 8 years (in a senior technical role) I know the key sales and ops people very well, we are good friends, but that is not going to be enough.
The problem I am facing is that the IT department (some 200 miles away in a shared service centre) have some concerns about using me instead of commissioning a software development company to build something bespoke for them. I can certainly see it from their point of view, but I need to convince them to go with me. There are a number of positives with me in that they know me, they know that I know the industry, I can work with great autonomy, only needing to check in with them on small things etc etc.
One of these concerns (potential deal killer!) is that they reckon (bear in mind they have no experience of FileMaker) FileMaker is a consumer grade product, and they think they need a more "industrial grade" product. This custom app will only be being used by 90 users (max 100 - 120 ever!) and concurrent this is probably going to be more like 50 or 60. This will be on a mix of PCs and iPads (with offline syncing).
Another is they will not own the IP - but if I can build a sold cost benefit case over 5 years, this should not be a problem - they don't actually have any resource at the moment to be able to effectively manage a 3rd party contractor anyway. It is pretty complicated what we do and very, very bespoke, so a 3rd party contract developer would need a large amount of hand holding throughout the project.
I would be keen to keep control of the app, so I will be in charge of the hosting with a company I trust (VM in a datacenter, excellent disaster recovery, vpn access, support etc) so I am confident in this part of the offering.
How would you guys approach answering the concern that FileMaker is a consumer grade product - any nuggets I can throw back at them would be great - as compelling as possible I guess (examples of large scale user numbers / record number etc would be great).
Just as an aside, the number of records in this thing is never going to run to the hundreds of thousands, my potential clients sell time by the day, so there will only be something like a max of 3000 "jobs" being loaded into this a year. They have maybe 1000 clients themselves for these 3000 jobs.
Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to throw my way! I have rather put all my eggs in one basket at the moment, and not winning this first (and what should be easiest) contract would be devastating for my future ability to earn money!