Filemaker Pro – some things that we think about when we engage with our prospects

Introduction

Many people dismiss Filemaker Pro as a platform suitable only for very small businesses. However a quick search of the internet shows that many larger companies including Pret A Manger and Eurostar use it. The platform operates in the following enviroments:-

  • Windows desktop
  • Apple Mac
  • ipad
  • iphone
  • via a web browser

Some example projects that we have worked on include:-

  • For a chartered Financial Planner we built a platform that enabled him to do his client valuations, projections and reporting
  • For a City Mergers and Acquistion firm we developed a tool that allowed them to track their sales pipeline
  • Bar code scanning system for plumbers merchant

Here are some of the things that we have learnt over the last 5 years in building systems with Filemaker:-

Understand why the solution is being built in Filemaker Pro

The software industry is an evolving beast with new products coming on the market every day. One of the first things that we say to any client is why do you feel the need for a bespoke solution. What research have they done  for products on the open market that are suitable for your vertical sector ? If they have not, then they really need to. In addition, can you quantify the amount of data that is required and  the complexity of the relationships between them ?

Data Migration

How much data needs to be moved from the old system to Filemaker Pro ? If it is just customer names and addresses from an excel spreadsheet than that is easily acheivable. However if you need to migrate data from an existing database which has several tables and many hundreds or thousands lines of data then how will you go about that ? The situation may be even more challenging if content such as images and video are involved. Also can you actually access the data ? We had one case where they had lost the original user name and password to enter the old system. Fortunately we were able to get in using an ethical hack.

Infrastructure

Filemaker Pro is a hosted solution – and hence the quality of the infrastructure is paramount to the success of the project. So we consider the clients internet speed, the hardware being used etc. There are some clients who still need to use a wired ethernet cable to connect  their PC’s to the web, and these are likely to have slower internet speeds – which can have an impact on performance. Some clients also use Microsofts Small Business Server – which is incompatible with Filemaker Pro Server. In these cases the solution would be to host the solution on an external database server.

Its not a word processor

Many people believe that that a database is a snazzy word processor, which is simply not true. So look at the required outputs and see how easily they can be produced in Filemaker Pro. If the client has text which is reasonably standardised or items from a pick list then it should be possible to build the system.

Use the latest version

We do get asked to help with systems that are built in very old versions of Filemaker Pro. However we insist that the client upgrades to the latest version (currently Version 16) as it is better for both the client and us if they do so. Hence the needs to factor in the cost of upgrading to the new licences as well as development time.

Installation Time

Unless the client is using purely the web direct version of Filemaker Pro, then a licence will need to be installed on every machine. Hence, if there are a large number of users, the time taken to install the device on each machine must be factored in.

Scope Creep

Clients appear go to on an evanlegism when they start having solutions built for them. As the journey progresses they have an ever increasing wish list. Hence it is paramount to define the scope upfront and continually remind them of it.

About the author

Kapil Kapur is the Managing Director of Fingertips Intelligence, who help companies make better decisions faster – through building bespoke dabase systems. If you would like an informal chat on how we can help your business then please get in touch on info@fingertips-intelligence.co.uk.

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How to design to better Excel Management Reporting Systems

Introduction

One of most common uses for Microsoft Excel is to produce effective management reporting.  So I thought I would write a blog explaining how key features of Excel that can improve the way that this information can be generated.

Inputs

That old saying “Garbage In – Garbage out” seems highly relevant  for excel management reporting systems. In its simplest format, data can be typed in. However larger organisations need to pull in data from 3rd party data sources – and there may be more than one such external system e.g SAGE, an in house system  or another commercial package.

Often it is possible to connect the data source via an ODBC connection or create  an automated process to do this via a comprehensive vba macro. The things to consider when either of these are involved:-

  • What happens if the connection or macro no longer works – what is the backup plan ?
  • What about if the data structure changes  e.g the addition of an extra code

However automation can save a considerable amount of time / re work . Through automation in this way I have saved clients several man months in manpower.

One approach that makes auditing considerably easier is to save the data sources in excel spreadsheets in a particular area on the network. Each tranche of data is stored in a seperate folder which is named with the relevant month.

Calculations in Excel Management Reporting systems

Having gathered all the relevant data, the next stage is to process the input data into the outputs. In its simplest format, this can be through excel formulae but often it can be an automated process through VBA macros. Again there are a number of several relevant points that need to be considered:-

  • How much automation will be required ? Although I absolutely advocate it, I always implement automation in sensible chunks. Instead of having one big process, I break down the process into distinct units. This enables my clients to cross check outputs at key points in their management reporting process. A relevant example would be when the client consists of several companies – you would automate the month end of each company in the group first. This would be the end of one process at which point you would check the results before undertaking a second automation to produce the overall picture.
  • Usability – It is often overlooked but the more user a friendly a system is, the better it will be implemented. For example showing users the required filenames, and indicating that they have been found.
  • Sense checking Any calculation process (irrespective of whether it is automated or not) needs to have cross checks to ensure that the correct outputs are being produced. One of the easiest ways of monitoring this can be through a special sheet set up for this purpose. This sheet could have all the required cross checks. Excel’s conditional formatting feature can be a valuable way of highlighting errors of this sort. Another useful tool for management reporting are Excel’s auditing tools – which can be used for tracking down errors in formulae. It is especially good for identifying circular references.

Workbook and Worksheet Design :-

The way the workbook and worksheets are set up (e.g colour coding to seperate out input and output cells) is fundamental to the success of an excel based management reporting solution. Hence it is worth spending some thinking time before building the solution.

Testing Without doubt this is the most misunderstood aspect of  any Excel Management Reporting system. Everybody understands what it is and the need for it, but very few appreciate the level and depth required. The most fundamental aspects are:-

  • Testing needs to happen as part of developing the management reporting process – rather than at the end. If it is done at the end then there is a grave danger of you having missed something earlier which would have changed the way you would have done things.
  • If a routine takes 4 minutes to run, then each test will take 4 minutes to run. So if you have to run the routine 200 times (not unheard of for a comprehensive month end) that is 600 minutes that needs to be set aside for testing.
  • You need to give meaningful error messages – rather than code bombing out
  • You need to build in error trapping – prevent code falling over in the first place

Outputs for Excel Management Reporting systems

Excel contains a wealth of tools to produce clear and meaningful outputs including graphs (pie charts, bar charts) and pivot tables. However the output needs to be useable – so it is worth having totals as formulae rather than hard coded values.

About the author

Kapil Kapur is the Managing Director of Fingertips Intelligence  who helps their clients make better decisions by helping them manag their data more effectively. If you would like an informal chat on how we can help you then please get in touch on 0845 163 0149.

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Database Designing for Dummies

Introduction to Database Designing

I was reflecting on the number of times that I have heard the phrase “Well I will provide you with the data and it can’t be that hard to build a database”. In my mind (apart from the indignant rage that this causes) this the same as expecting a plumber to turn up with your new boiler and radiator and having a new central heating system ready in a matter of minutes.

So I thought I would put together a list of the steps that I actually go through when undetaking database designing. At Fingertips Intelligence we build the majority of our platforms in Filemaker Pro.  

1. Thinking time

At the end of the day, I am actually a business analyst / database developer. I know very little about my clients business. Given the diversity of my clients (I’m currently working for a National Firm of Appliance testers, a Chartered Accountants and a Sales Trainer) I need to get to grips with their business problem. So the first stage of  database designing is always quality thinking time. I’m oscillating between:-

  • Asking an excessive amounts of questions (which of course the client either loves or loathes). You’d be amazed how many times asking a basic question can provoke such rage with a client.
  • Having those Eureka moments when things fall into place
  • Having those non-Eureka moments went things fall apart
  • When I’m stumped and need some clear thinking time
  • When I’m absolutely stumped and am driving myself up the wall trying to find an elusive missing link

2. The client is practically lying to me time

So I’ve done a lot of the premilinary database designing and I am about to get to building it when I think about the stuff that is going to break the system.

I will ask the client for example “Do the list of products ever change ?”. The answer from the client is “Absolutely not – it is a definitive product list”.

And half way through the project build it transpires that there is an extra set of optional products which does change. Hence in my database design I need to try and work out how this will happen,

So this tranche of my time is devoted to seeing what information the client thinks is not important to telling me, but in fact is fundamental.

3. Creating the Database Tables 

So now get down to the fundamentals and start designing / building the underlying tables. Obviously there are the obvious tables such as customers and orders. However there can be some esoteric tables such as user names or even price history, where each time the price changes on a product it needs to be recorded. Some of my database solutions have over 30 tables.

4. Database Components

Having worked out the database tables, then I start to think about the components. So for example a customer will have the first name, last name, phone number, email address etc. Most tables will have a minimum of 20 components. However in more sophisticated systems I have had over 300 components.

5. Relationships

This is where the fun can really start as I start thinking about how the various components can link up to each other. So ensuring that there is a relationship between the customer and all his orders. This will extend as each order will have order components that will feed from a master product list. Fortunately Filemaker makes it comparatively easy to connect up tables up using their visual interface.

6. The Data So now I can go back to the data that the customer supplied me with and import it. You can bet that it will be in exactly the required format… In fact here are some of the things that will go wrong:-

  • I will have asked for the data in a spreadsheet but it will be supplied as Word
  • Even if it is a spreadsheet, it will be formatted e.g instead of seperate columns for First and last name, they will be as one column and i will need to split them out.
  • The dates will be in a non standard format e.g 12.07.2010 rather than 12/7/2010.

7. The User Interface Naturally every customer wants an easy to use interface that is simple to follow. The things that they fail to realise are:-

  • It is not a single interface – it is several interfaces (or in Filemaker Pro layouts) that interact with each other. All of these need to be individually created.
  • Further it is never the first version of the layout that looks good – but rather each one needs several versions as I refine them continuously
  • And none of the layouts are stand alone, if I change one, it might force me to make change on several others
  • Having designed all the layouts, the client will want their own branding which will mean revising all the layouts

8. Making the database actually do something Yes the database needs to do a few things. In Filemaker (and in other systems) this is doing by writing scripts. So there can be several scripts each doing a bit of the overall functionality

  • Add a new customer / order /product etc
  • Produce a report
  • Email a report

However as well as writing a script, it needs to be tested. So I test as I go along, and then when it is complete. Further you need to ensure that the script is idiot proof – what happens if the end user does not supply all the data that is required for the script. This means that there has to be comprehensive testing of the script.

9. Security At its simplest level this means having seperate log on details for each user. However, it can often mean a lot more – in particular allowing certain parts of the system to be restricted. For example only certain users can view pricing data.

10. Testing This is the most misunderstood aspect of the system design. Here are some examples of the testing that needs to be undertaken:-

  • The most important test is that I have understood the user requirement thoroughly. The majority of my clients have practically no systems experience other than facebook/linkedin usage. So I need to demonstrate that I have done this by regularly meeting with the client and show them progress. This gives both sides a chance to give feedback.
  • The client needs to undertake their own testing to check that they are happy with the system functionality.
  • However as part of my own role, I need to test from the ground up – look at every button / layout and script and ensure that they behave in the correct manner. This has to be done both at the microscopic and macroscopic level – the output from one part of the system needs to feed into another.
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How Filemaker helped this Financial Advisor improve his business processes

Introduction

In this post, we will discuss how we helped a Chartered Financial Planner automate his business processes. Our client was Alistair Mann, who owns Clocktower Financial Planning in Cobham Surrey. We were introduced to Alistair by an existing client (who was also an IFA).

Alistair said that he previously had software that was very expensive but did not do what he wanted. He was looking for a bespoke solution to help him manage his business more effectively through process automation.

What our client was looking to acheive  with business process automation

Alistair was looking to make his business more efficient through process automation. He wanted to be able to import client valuation data from his providers and use it in a number of ways:-

  • Inform clients more effectively of how their investments were performing
  • Create bespoke reports for his clients including specific market commentary and charts
  • Email these reports to the customer
  • Create fact finds which give an overview of the clients position and their long term financial objectives
  • Produce bespoke financial scenarios

How we worked the client to acheive his required process automation

We recommended a solution that was built in Filemaker Pro which would enable him cto manage his business on both his desktop and ipad.

Alistair supplied us with some excel files which enabled us to identify the majority of the fields required. In addition, we were given a couple of reports that contained further required information.

We met with Alistair almost weekly basis over a three month period to show how him how his system was being developed and how his desired process automation would be acheived. This enabled him to give us feedback and refine the solution.

What Process Automation was acheived ?

Here is a list of the main processes that the system was able to automate:-

  • Importing of data from seven different providers
  • Data Validation of imported data (all erroneous data turns red)
  • Generation of client valuation reports at a press of a button
  • Client Meeting reports including recommendations
  • Fact Finds

Some example screenshots

Here are a couple of example screenshots from the system:-

clocktower

Gives overview of system including contact details

The screen above shows an overview of the system including the client contact details. The shot below shows how the system stores the clients products.

process automation  filemaker

How the system stores the client valuations

What did the client say ?

You can hear what Alistair said about the system we built in the video below:-

 

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Spreadsheet Design 10 top tips

I have been building spreadsheets, databases and systems for over 20 years. So I thought it appropriate to come up with a list of Top 10 spreadsheet design tips:-

1. Is a spreadsheet really the best solution ? It actually flabbergasts me how many people start using spreadsheets when a proper database is actually more appropriate. If you have multiple spreadsheets stacked upon each other, then it is a strong indication that a proper database solution is required rather a spreadsheet.

However it can be a good idea to start with a spreadsheet first to understand what you are trying to build. When you have grasped this you can think about having a proper database system. In essence the spreadsheet solution acts as a crude prototype for the real system. This was the approach that we adopted at the Department of Health for one of their systems.

2. At first – do nothing Regardless of whether or not it is a spreadsheet or database solution you require, don’t start any real work on the solution. Instead have some thinking time – preferably away from the desk. Use it to really understand what you are trying to acheive.

I remember one of my earliest bosses being gobsmacked that I was literally apparently doing nothing. Even when I explained my approach he was not convinced. Only later on when he saw what I came up with (which was I have to admit an ingenious solution and led to us winning a £ 10 m order) did he apologise, I saw him years later and after working with me, he changed the way he viewed people.

3. Think about Inputs, Calculations, Data and Outputs When building the spreadsheet have seperate tabs for each of these. Further, the accepted practice is to have inputs in the front tabs, then calculations, and finally the output tabs. Any data tabs should go towards the end of the workbook. It is actually good practice to colour these types of tab in seperate colours.

4. Colour Code Cells  There are essentially five types of cell in a spreadsheet:-

a) Those that require an input value

b) They need a value from a drop down

c) It contains a calculation

d) it is a total row / column

e) It is a label

So for each of these types of cell, use a different colour. Further, put the colour scheme at the top of each sheet so that it can be easily seen. Some people suggest that values that contain calculation cells should be protected – but this can be cumbersome to implement in a large spreadsheet.

I recommend that the row and total columns are made bold so that they stand out.

5. Work from left to right It may sound obvious but start at the left hand side of the worksheet and move towards the right. Further if your spreadsheet is something that shows time related values (i.e Jan, Feb, Mar etc) then use the same row and column for a particular month on each sheet. So if on one sheet Jan-15 is in cell C2, then it should be in the same cell on every sheet.

6. Use consistent formulae in any block of cells I have to say that of all the potential pitfalls / errors in a spreadsheet this one is the most dangerous. In each block of cells the formulae used need to be consistent. If not, it will be very hard to track down an error. If it is necessary to have different formulae break the block down into seperate blocks, each with consistent formulae. Then create a total block that sums across each of the individual blocks.

If there are only a couple of individidual blocks then one possible workaround is to use nested IF statements. However do not go overboard as these can be very memory consuming and slow down your spreadsheets performance.

7. Use Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Totals for reconcilations If your data is time dependent then create monthly, quarterly and yearly blocks with corresponding totals. After this have totals for each of these ranges, and cross check the totals. Although it will significantly increase the size of your workbook, it will acts as a valuable audit for your spreadsheet. Indeed part of the initial thinking process for the workbook, should be devoted to working out what cross checks are needed in the model.

Further, having quarterly and yearly information acts a useful summary for management.

8. Use Graphs That old cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words, could be modified for a spreadsheet – a graph is worth a thousand cells. A good graph will be clearly labelled and use the correct format (i.e line . bar , pie) for the data being shown. Further any anomalies in the data ought to be picked up.

9. Have a summary sheet Almost all the spreadsheet models I develop are extremely complicated – some with over 50 worksheets. Hence a single summary sheet with a couple of graphs can be very useful.

10 Save your work – often I have been forever haunted when I lost a days work through my spreadsheet being too big and I was under presure to deliver. So save your work regularly , and use version control in case you need to go back to a previous version.

About the Author

Kapil Kapur is the Managing Director of Fingertips Intelligence who helps companies by managing their data more effectively. If you would like more information on how we can help your organisation  then get in touch on 0845 163 0149.

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How to a 2d look up in Excel

Introduction

In this blog, I am going to explain how to do a 2d look up in an array / matrix. A 1 dimensional array can be easily be done via the standard vlookup or hlookup functions in Excel. So:-

1.10 Two Dimensional VLOOKUPand then we have :-1.10.2 Two Dimensional VLOOKUP

However what happens If we need a 2d look up  in Excel ?

1.10.3 Two Dimensional VLOOKUPand we want to find the value of Boats in Mar-08 ? So we need to  add two drop downs to specify the mode of transport and the month that we need :-

1.10.5Two Dimensional VLOOKUPExcel provides has a  function called INDEX that allows us to return values from a 2d array :-

INDEX(Array_Range, Row Number, Col Number)

Where

  • Array_Range is the range in Excel of the two dimensional array – in this case $B$4:$H$7
  • Row Number is the position in the list where we find the text “Boat” – in this case is 1
  • Col Number is the position in the list where we find the month “Mar-08”

Of course the only thing left to do is to determine the Row and Column Number. This is done by using the MATCH function – which returns the position of a string within a range of values :-

MATCH(“String”, Range,0) – will return the position of “String” in the array “Range” and the 0 states that we want an exact match. So we are looking for the position of Boats in the range {Boats, Cars, Planes , Lorries} – which is 1. This will give the row number :-

MATCH(B11,$B$4:$B$7,0)

And similarily for the column number

MATCH(C11,$C$2:$H2,0)

And then we combine all these into one function :-

=INDEX($C$4:$H$7,MATCH(B11,$B$4:$B$7,0),MATCH(C11,$C2:$H$2,0))

To give the value of 79 for boats in March 2008 :-

1.10.6 Two Dimensional VLOOKUP

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Database Design – 6 top tips

Introduction to Database Design

Fingertips Intelligence have been building systems for over 10 years and we like to give our clients plenty of advice before we start their project. If I could this information summarise regarding “Database Design” that information into one page then it would be –

1. A database is a business tool and has to fit your business. It may seem obvious but if the database design does not reflect the way you want it to, then it is useless. That’s irrespective of how it looks, what it does, or any fancy add-ins.

2. Do not make the initial scope too big. For most SME’s – a good database is one that will get delivered in under 3 months. Focus on the core problems you are trying to solve in the initial build and then plan for subsequent stages.

3. Consider the processes that underpin your business and how they operate – and how they could be improved by having a database. E.g invoicing – consider only customer invoicing for now :

  • It would be good if the system collated all the line items automating – having the invoice generated a click of a button
  • Have the customer details appearing on the invoice
  • Generated the next invoice number
  • Emailed the invoice to the customer

4. Think about having a dashboard showing what is going in the business and all show potential problems at a glance:-

  • Overdue invoices
  • Orders that are in production / about to be delivered

5. Joining up disparate information sources – to generate simple but effective business intelligence e.g :-

  • Before you might have had separate spreadsheets showing customers and their orders – now having a single comprehensive database can show you which customers are buying which services
  • Suppliers and stock levels – are different parts of the organisation using their own suppliers to purchase the same product ? Using a single database can highlight this and enable you to consolidate your purchasing

6. Management Reporting – this is one of the most important aspect of a database – to be able to provide management with effective business intelligence at a click of a button. Management reporting should be easy to implement if you have been following robust database design practices.

About the author

Kapil Kapur is the Managing Director of Fingertips Intelligence who help their clients manage their information more effectively. If you would like an informal chat about how we can help your business then please get in touch on 0845 163 0149.

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How we used Filemaker Pro to bring this Christmas Tree Supplier into the 21st Century

Introduction

Shoots & Leaves are a West London garden landscaping firm, who for the last 18 years have been selling Christmas Trees during the run up to Christmas. In the last few years, the business has been growing rapidly, as this year they will have 2 additional pop-up stores, making a total of 6. In addition, they sell trees via their website.

A few years ago we started working with them to help them automate their business. We did this using the bespoke database platform Filemaker Pro.

Owner, Hew Stevenson, explains how we helped bring them into the 21st Century in the video below:-

How has the new Filemaker system helped Shoots & Leaves?

Before having the system, Shoots & Leaves ran their entire business on Microsoft Office using a combination of:

  • Microsoft Word for invoicing
  • Excel as a customer database
  • Outlook to dispatch emails

Having three different packages meant that the same data was input multiple times, making the process arduous and lengthy.

With the new Flilemaker system:-

  • Customer data only had to be entered once saving a substantial amount of time
  • Invoices (including customer and delivery details) are created a press of a button without switching to another program
  • Shoots & Leaves can email customers their invoices directly from a single database, prepopulating the email with an email address and a standard message that can be customised
  • The system also acts as a CRM keeping a record of the email sent to the customer
  • As items are sold, the stock levels for that item are automatically updated
  • the system can produce reports, indicating overdue invoices

The main reason Hew and his staff like the system so much is that it substantially simplifies their tree deivery rotas. Formerly, they had to spend a hours each night going through spreadsheets developing a delivery schedule for the following day.

Their new system:

  • tells staff which deliveries are due on each day
  • groups jobs by area
  • assigns drivers to jobs
  • Creates a delivery schedule for each driver

…all in a matter of minutes.

Sample Screenshot of Filemaker System

This shows the main screen, which allows them to :-

  • enter orders
  • generate invoices
  • display the deliveries for any particular day
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Filemaker Pro – 10 reasons why we recommend it to our clients

Introduction

Fingertips Intelligence (www.Fingertips-intelligence.co.uk) helps companies manage their data more effectively by building customised database solutions using the Filemaker Pro platform. Using these systems, our clients are able to make decisions faster, so that they can run their businesses more effectively.

We build the majority of our systems using the Filemaker Pro package (www.Filemaker.co.uk).

10 Reasons why we recommend Filemaker Pro

Here are 10 reasons why we recommend Filemaker Pro:-

  • The Filemaker Platform has been around for over 20 years – and new versions of the software are regularly released with additional features
  • Filemaker licences can be purchased outright – eliminating the need to keep paying ongoing licence / support fees. This helps our clients manage the cost of deployment.
  • There is an extensive online community of Filemaker Developers – so clients can easily get additional help if need be
  • It allows data to be shared simultaneously between users. Even in this modern age, there are database platforms that do not allow users to access data in this way.
  • We are able to develop bespoke APIs (Application Programmable Interface) so that data can be exchanged with other systems e.g Xero, Email and Xero
  • Users can access data remotely – they do not have to be in the same physical location to access the data
  • Filemaker Pro runs on both the Apple and Windows Platforms
  • There is a mobile version of Filemaker which allows people to access data on their Iphones and ipads
  • It allows fast development of systems – when compared to languages such as PHP / .net which require significantly more programming time
  • Data can be viewed via a web viewer as well as a Filemaker Client
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Some clear signs that you have a dead database

Introduction

It is a simple statement – but nothing lasts for ever especially in Information technology. One day your system  will become unfit for purpose. It will might just work but there will be so many limitations that it is effectively a dead database.

This potentially ghastly scenario does not (usually) happen overnight but over a gradual period of time. Here are some things that can cause you to have a dead database:-

  • The introduction of new business processes that the original system cannot cope with
  • You have to record additional information that was not foreseen when the system was first built
  • You need to create additional reports from within your system
  • The platform that your system is built in, is no longer supported
  • You can’t get hold of the original developer who built the system
  • You need your data to be mobile
  • The system was only designed to hold a certain amount of data – which you have surpassed
  • Your operating system has been upgraded and no longer supports your chosen platform
  • Your IT infrastructure is obsolete (old PCs, poor broadband)

What can be done with a dead database

 At Fingertips Intelligence we recommend the Filemaker Pro platform to build bespoke database systems. This is a commercially recognised package that allows us to build databases easily. Filemaker Pro has been around since 1992 for both Apple and Windows. Filemaker are continually bringing out new versions of the software with additional features – the last two versions (13 and 14) allow connection with mobile devices and web technology.

As the platform has been around for so long and evolving, we have faith that it will overcome many of the issues mentioned above. Further, it allows for changes to be easily made to systems e.g if addition data/ reports are required.

How we helped our client with their dead database

 As Filemaker has been around for so long, we do get asked to bring old filemaker systems up to date. Earlier versions of filemaker were built as “disparate” systems which were then connected together as one database. As part of the process we needed to consolidate these individual systems into a single new system.

Montage Arts are a small performing arts company in London. They had a filemaker database which was over 10 years old. The system was such that it acted merely as a data repository rather than as a business intelligence tool. That is although they could enter data, they needed to extract the data to excel and manipulate it before any meaningful reports could be produced.

Fingertips Intelligence took their database and overhauled it :-

  • We brought all the information into one single database system
  • We arranged the data into a more systematic hierarchy so that it was easy to see families, their children and the courses that they attended (and the associated monies)
  • A brand new interface which was much more user friendly.
  • We implemented a number of new reports that would allow them to seek additional funding
  • The database had a drill down facility so that it was easy to navigate

Client Testimonial

“I am the Artistic Director of Montage Theatre Arts, a small charity in London. We had a filemaker database that was very inefficient and cumbersome to use. Fingertips intelligence took it away and gave it a new lease of life within days.

We now have all our information structured in a far more logical fashion, and the system is much easier to use. The information that I need for management reporting can now be obtained in seconds rather than hours. ”

“Judy Gordon Artistic Director Montage Arts”

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