2 Replies Latest reply on Aug 10, 2012 5:57 PM by davidanders

    Creating database for work flow in print shop



      Creating database for work flow in print shop


      I work in a small print shop where we have been using a FileMaker Pro database that was created years ago (in a really old version) to track our jobs in case we lost our paper Work Order(s). We keep importing it into newer software as we update. The problem with this is that we have software that could do so much more than we are currently using.  We'd like to harness some of that power now and improve our database and get a little more efficient. Since I had nothing to do with the creation of the database years ago, and am only just now learning how to modify what we have, I'm not sure if it's better to start over with a new database, or if there's a way to effectively alter what we have.

      Our end goal is to have a database that includes all contact info for our clients (which can be used to send periodic mailers), detailed information for every job in the shop (which can be used to create personalized work sheets for each employee listing what they have to do today), and the ability to incorporate pricing down the road. It also needs to be able to generate Work Orders for each job, with a unique number, as well as a prefix chosen from a drop down list which will identify the type of job it is (for example: D- for Digital, O- for Out of Shop, P- for Press, S- for Stamp, etc).

      Our shop has several departments, and the same person may have duties across all departments. Somehow we need to generate a task list for each person for each day so we have a clear idea of what needs to be done. So you might have someone responsible for Data Entry, 8 of the 13 Bindery functions, Customer Contact, and Packaging. Someone else might have Customer Service, the remaining 5 Bindery components, Design, and Digital Printing. The last person might have Offset Press, Finances, and Deliveries. We also have con-call staff who fill in as needed. Once we have all of our data entered into our database, how do we pull the needed info into a report for each person? What's the best way to set up our database so that we CAN pull that info out into a report?

      I know I've thrown a lot of information at you, but I'd like to do this right from the start, rather than have to cobble it together as I go (which is what we've been doing). And if someone knows how to make a screen capture on a PC (I'm a Mac person!), I'll post one of our records from our current database so you can see what we're starting with.

      Thanks a bunch in advance! 

        • 1. Re: Creating database for work flow in print shop

          It is a LOT of information--too much for one thread in a forum. I suggest that you break this down into sub tasks and tackle one at a time. Not only will you learn FileMaker as you go, but you can produce a working database that does part of what you need and which can be put into use without having to wait until the whole project is finished. Don't worry too much about the results of such a project being "cobbled together". If you use decent design methods, it's quite easy to "grow" a FileMaker solution into a larger and larger system as you add more and more features to your database.

          To capture a screen shot in windows. Hold down either ctrl, alt, or shift and press print screen. Then open a graphics program such as windows paint and paste from the clipboard into the graphics editor. (The modifier keys control whether you capture the current window or the entire monitor screen.

          • 2. Re: Creating database for work flow in print shop

            There is a free utility called MWSnap that will capture full screen, area, or a window and allow you to save as most graphic formats.

            It will not annotate or resize captures.

            I would start by focusing on your people information.

            Clients / Customers / whatever label you use
            Prospects are often kept separate until an Estimate is accepted, then a script turns the Prospect into a Customer and an Estimate into a Job.

            Often Salepeople are kept sorta separate to track performance.

            Vendors (outside services)
               One contact for a vendor or more than one

            Some would suggest blending them into one person table (database). I would keep them separate

            Printers who are just automating have to make a decision to keep the current Job Sheet or redo the form for efficiency.

            The data entry will be on a small computer monitor or large? Or a tablet? Interface size is one of the first design questions.

            White Paper for Filemaker Novices  is a good overview of Filemaker design process.