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Help Wanted: Hosting Consultant (Edited: was Supporting and improving an existing database)

Question asked by ncg1 on Nov 22, 2018
Latest reply on Nov 29, 2018 by eric

I think I need to find some professional support.


My business runs on a FileMaker database which I created as a single user tool 9 years ago for me to use when my business was just me.  I'm not a programmer, I am a theatre producer.  Now the business has grown and we have 9 users.


I'm the only person who understands the database.  This afternoon I was advised by a business coach to dump FileMaker and buy off the shelf tools to replicate its functionality as this would be easier to support via the manufacturers. I don't agree, but she had a point.


These days the database is hosted with a FileMaker server specialist, uses 360Works Zulu product to act as a CalDAV server to my team, and uses their SafetyNet product to backup nightly to AWS.  It benefits from kdoronzio's excellent Zapier integration. It books appointments, contracts and invoices customers, emails schedules to our freelance team, pays them, and looks after customer and freelancer contacts, and uses the Rest API of our CRM to sync a little info backwards and forwards.


I built it really badly, breaking all the rules and learning as I went.  The earliest (and now core) part of the table relationship diagram is enough of a birds-nest to give a real developer a heart attack - I'd never heard of anchor-bouy back then!  And there are redundant tables etc still referenced in scripts from dead ends we no longer use.  But I'm really proud of it, and with it I have built a business.


It basically works well, though the UI and speed could be much improved.


Now I need to be focussed on growing my business rather than supporting and developing the database.


I think I need to find someone to:

- be available if there is a total lack of connectivity, and provide support at fairly short notice to my team if there is a problem and either I am not available, or I cannot fix it.

- deal with any unexpected issues that occur - for instance we lost access to the Zulu calendars a few months ago after a server update.

- keep the software up to date, and handle security

- make small updates to hard coded database layouts if I am not available


Ideally, and if affordable, I would love to make some improvements, including to speed and to the UI; and maybe separate the data from the main application so that the application can be improved in a more structured way.


Basically, my biggest concern is that if I become sick and the database stops working then the business stops.  There needs to be a backup human!


I'd love to know you wise people's thoughts on what I could or should do, how much I should budget, and what approaches I should take.  Thank you!