1 2 3 Previous Next 120 Replies Latest reply on Aug 2, 2017 3:03 AM by mz5005

    Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"

    J_File

      Hi All,

       

      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!

       

      J

        • 1. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
          richardsrussell

          But of course, FileMaker Pro is a "consumer grade" product. So, for example, are Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, and MacOS, and I'm guessing they wouldn't badmouth those. But it's extremely robust and scalable, and isn't that what your customers are really after?

           

          Besides, where would they ever find a database engineer who knows the field as well as you do and wouldn't have to rack up billable hours trying to get up to speed on the subject matter? Don't sell your own self short as part of the value they'd be getting for the money.

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
            Philip_Jaffe

            Listen to this PodCast:

             

            FileMaker Talk - Just talking about FileMaker by Matt Navarre & Matt Petrowsky on Apple Podcasts

             

            Look for the episode titled:

             

            "Interview with Tim Neudecker"

             

            He talks about how to sell FileMaker to IT

            2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
              J_File

              Thanks for the worshippers of encouragement Richard. Its on of those situations where the IT department looks after 1500 users, but my thing will only be used by a fraction of them - lots of different technical bits and bobs throughout the whole business you see.

               

              They have policies for stuff which is supposed to be business wide, but it just ends up not being right for anyone - I am sure you have come across similar situations!

               

              J

              • 4. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                J_File

                Thanks Philip, I will check that out now.

                • 5. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                  DavidZakary

                  Key points...

                  • Rapid deployment
                  • Security (if implemented properly)
                  • Ease of modifications and customization
                  • Ease of deployment to multiple devices (desktop, iOS, web)
                  • Find case studies of FM being used in different market sizes
                  • ROI vs. whatever they're thinking of using - this could be a key point if they're looking at having to set up a new infrastructure to support it - MS SQL Server costs, Oracle, Sharepoint, whatever vs. FileMaker Pro / Server setup
                  • Make them understand what FM is and who uses it
                  • FileMaker is part of the most valuable company on the planet
                  • FileMaker is well established, over 30 years now
                  • If it's good enough for NASA, government, legal, education, etc...
                  • Find FileMaker Inc. resources, you should be able to get access to people within the company to help with sales issues. They've been dealing with IT department ignorance for a long time
                  • 6. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                    coherentkris

                    if they have technology bias its difficult to overcome because it not always based on the facts.

                     

                    Just try getting MAC into a Windows shop or FM into an Oracle or SQL Server shop.

                     

                    I would ask for them to identify an acceptable "industrial grade" product and do a feature based A-B comparison and an cost/ROI analysis.

                     

                    You should also ask why they want to use a backhoe when the best tool for the job is a shovel if that is in fact the case.

                     

                    At the end of the day you can have facts piled upon facts and opinion can still win.

                    • 7. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                      J_File

                      Cracking list of "ticks in the box" there. Thanks very much for taking the time to put them down.

                       

                      Good point about finding a few case studies with a similar number of users to compare.

                       

                      Unfortunately, what with my learning curve, I am not sure the "rapid deployment" is going to be particularly that rapid, although I have a 7 month head start!

                       

                      What I struggle to get my head around is how they are going to get an accurate figure on a comparative price from another technology (sql). You can write feature lists until you are blue in the face, but without the developer knowing exactly what is going into this, it must be nigh on impossible for them to price and provide accurate timescales. What stops them from winning the contract on a "cheap expected" price and a "quick expected" timescale, only for both the slide when they really get into the nitty gritty of it all. Nothing I guess.

                       

                      Thanks very much for your help once again!

                       

                      J

                      • 8. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                        philmodjunk

                        All good advice, but I'd add that if you can figure out--perhaps via some informal conversations with key people, exactly what negative connotations they are attaching to the buzz word "consumer grade", you can then address those specific points in any formal presentation that they make. If you don't figure that out, you may miss the mark in your presentation.

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                        • 9. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                          J_File

                          Yes, the old saying "why use a sledge hammer to crack a nut" is much along the same lines. They have already identified a company they have used elsewhere in the business for something vaguely along the same sort of lines (i.e. they think it is similar, but from what I know of the 2 business units, there is a massive difference between the 2). They have given them the brief and I believe a price has been mentioned to build it. I will make sure they also look at all the other hidden costs such as:

                           

                          - putting an IT project manager on it

                          - getting a technical person to work very closely on it

                          - extra unforeseen development costs during building / fine tuning

                          - extra development costs when running the system (to make a new report / change how something is laid out)

                          etc.

                           

                          Thanks, J

                          • 10. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                            J_File

                            Phil,

                             

                            They have not provided any details on why they think it is consumer grade. I have only had contact with my "champions" within the sales / ops departments and they have done all the liaising so far. My contacts do not have any further information on what they mean by "consumer grade" which, as you say, is rather frustrating.

                             

                            It will all come out in the wash at the end of the day, I just need to have sensible retorts to any concerns they come up with at the end of the day.

                             

                            J

                            • 11. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                              beverly

                              In some cases it helps for you to know their language. If you can speak SQL or networks or security or ...., then you can tell them how FM can integrate with what they have. It's not always an either-or, it's a cooperative effort.

                              Beverly

                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                                J_File

                                Philip,

                                 

                                I had a listen to that podcast, a few snippets of useful stuff in there. The big difference in what he was saying and what I am proposing is that I do not want to hand any control over to the IT department (help desk or otherwise). Fine if they want to link in Active Directory for authentication, but apart from that, I will own the IP which means that I want to control everything else.

                                 

                                It was interesting how he was describing the function of an IT department. i.e. not to get the latest stuff to make everything amazing, but more to act as the guardians of the data. I had not really looked at it from that point of view before.

                                 

                                With my proposal almost cutting them out of the equation, I originally thought they would like that as no extra work for them, but perhaps they are concerned with the security aspects and NOT having control which makes them nervous. I will have to think about how I counter that.

                                 

                                I suppose system updating could be a big thing to consider. I am quite cool with it (gonna be data separation model) but maybe they are concerned with losing data / security breaches with data etc. I will have to put their minds at ease on this as well.

                                 

                                I just can't afford for it to drag on for months and months!

                                 

                                J

                                • 13. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                                  J_File

                                  Beverly,

                                   

                                  Bingo - hence the Active Directory authentication is a good start!

                                   

                                  Integration is a funny one, they have their own Sage CRM but that is about all it would need to integrate with (if even that).

                                   

                                  J

                                  • 14. Re: Persuading an IT department that FileMaker is not "consumer grade"
                                    Philip_Jaffe

                                    Check out this publication from Filemaker.  It might also help persuade:

                                     

                                     

                                    Rapid Application Development - Download G2 Crowd Report | FileMaker

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