2 Replies Latest reply on Mar 10, 2014 10:25 AM by ChrisJones_1

    Advice on FM database as a commercial product.



      Advice on FM database as a commercial product.




           I’m not sure where this should go as it’s not really a problem but I do need some advice. Let me explain.


           Last year I developed a social car database for a local Community Transport Charity that matches elderly and infirm people that need to go to various appointments such as doctors, dentists, hospitals etc. with a pool of volunteer drivers. 


           It was developed with FM 12 Pro Advanced and after some help and advice from FM Forum members during its development, it went live last November. The database works really well and has improved the Charity’s Booking and response times and has increased its efficiency no end. 


           Because of the success of it, the Project Manager for the charity invited me to a Community Transport Forum for the South of England to tell forum members about this database as he thought it would help similar charities. The response from the various members of the forum was very positive with the host of the forum, West Sussex County Council, inviting me to the next forum to demonstrate it. The interest was such that forum members said the system would also be suitable for taxi cab companies, bus hire or other transport solutions who needed a client booking system and that I should be looking on this as a commercial venture. 


           As a direct result of the forum one company asked whether it was possible to see the system prior to the demonstration and after having visited the charity’s premises last week and seeing the system in action, have already enquired whether they could now purchase the system.


           My problem is I’m not a professional developer and I did this as a project as I enjoyed doing it and it also helped the charity that I’m involved with. I’m also fairly sure there are probably better ways to improve on the way I have designed it so should probably be checked by someone with more skill than me before being released commercially. I know nothing about how to cost this or charge for it, how to license it and how this sits with Filemaker themselves in terms of distribution etc. 


           So my question is: Has anyone else come across this and how do I turn this into a commercial product if the outcome to the presentation in May, is that more companies / organisations want to buy this? I feel I need to be prepared and ready in case this does take off and that I feel comfortable in selling a product that is commercially fit for purpose.


           Any thoughts, suggestions, help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

        • 1. Re: Advice on FM database as a commercial product.

               Pricing will be the stickiest issue of all. I suggest doing any research that you can to find out what other systems are out there and how much they sell for. If you produce the most fantastic system known to man but price it 5 times more than the most expensive system offered, few are likely to buy unless you can convince customers that it's worth the added cost.

               You'll also want to determine whether and how much to charge for technical support--especially onsite support for each customer. You may need to find a network geek that you can work with and contract out to in order to resolve hardware issues as clients will tend to call you for help for anything connected to their computer system once your database is up and working on it.

               From a technical point of view, you have several issues to deal with and I am not offering solutions to them here just raising them for you to think about and research further:

               Do you want to customize the product for each client? If so, be prepared to invest a lot of time managing the design of each solution and be prepared to charge each customer well for that service. If not, you can start with a single solution offered but track user requests for what they would like to see as an improvement. You can then decide to offer either an update with the added features or a value added version for those that want the additional features.

               You'll need to consider what steps you want to take to keep pirate copies from proliferating from user to user that don't then generate any revenue for you and in fact reduce it.

               And if you plan on offering your solution to both Mac and Windows systems, you'll need to own at least one Machine for each OS so that you can test and debug your solution on each platform.

               And since you are almost certain to need to deliver updated copies of your system to users when issues are discovered and corrected, you'll need to think about how to deliver those updates and move the client's data from the old version into the new with a minimum of time and effort.

               I suggest this link on the data separation model as one way to simplify some updates: Convert to Seperation Model

          • 2. Re: Advice on FM database as a commercial product.

                 Thanks for the advice. You have highlighted even more issues that I'd not even thought about so I will be doing much more research into this before I think about releasing this as a commercial product.