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Need Your Expert Advice - Please Read!


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Okay, so I have a potential client who I would love to create a solution for. Everything this company uses to track their sales and company information is on paper. I wrote up a proposal for this client stating their business model, what my solution can do for their company and my past work experience building FileMaker solutions. The president of the company is very excited to get started on this solution, but has to present the proposal to the board of directors for budget reasons.

The problem? One of the people on the board of directors thinks that FileMaker is a disaster and "not a very good database". Apparently, this person has seen a solution that I worked on BEFORE I worked on it. The developer who originally built that "disaster" of a solution did not build it right. A lot of it was non-relational and there was a lot of manual entry involved. So, this person is convinced that FileMaker is a disaster because of that developer's terrible job. What can I do to convince them that FileMaker is the best solution for their small company? I have already offered to show them solutions that I have built. Thanks in advance for your advice.

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It is hard to dissuade a stubborn person. You could point out, besides that fact that the earlier file was not yours, that FileMaker 7 is a big step up from earlier versions; that FileMaker needs to be re-evaluated now.

If you don't have any extensive FileMaker 7 files, you could get them to look at Business Tracker. While I wouldn't really call it an industrial strength solution, it shows off some of the new features, is a multi-table one-file solution, and has an overall look that appeals to business types.

Another good example of what FileMaker can do, in a very different type of solution, is Cleveland Consulting's free Calendar file.

If they are concerned about security, you can tell them not to worry. Show them the level of control in 7's Accounts & Privileges. This is one area where 7 simply shines.

You could also present a few of the specifications of version 7. Doesn't sound like a weenie database to me:

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One of the things I always mention is that, with FMP, the customer does not have to call you every time they want to make a trivial change. Of course, maybe you want them to!?

You can usually show people how to whip up ad hoc reports in a very short time.

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A good way to deal with this scenario is a comparison. Tell the people that this board member has seen a Pinto and concluded that Ford cannot build a safe automobile, or that he has seen "On Golden Pond" and concluded that Hollywood can't make an action film.

Try to address the concern in an analogy which uses an accurately matched comparison, but is in terms even the least technically minded in the audience will completely understand.

Good luck!

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What is being said is not necessarily what is meant here. The board member is talking about FileMaker, but may really be dubious of the quality of FileMaker developers from what he has seen in the past. He is also dubious of being locked into what could be a bad scene.

This suggestion could either end run the board totally or give the board member the comfort level he/she needs to let you proceed:

1. Offer to do the project as an incremental development project at a fixed hourly rate.

2. Have a person who is your contact person in the company, preferrably the president. You will report to this person twice a month both with an invoice for your services rendered and with sample files to date, comments on problems, opportunities etc as seen during your development. This can be in person, email report, phone conference....The main thing is there is a continuing review built in.

3. Give them the option to discontinue development at any time.

This gives them several things:

1. They can if they wish disassociate the project from the budget process and do it as a continuing expense....Hence the president can do an end run around the board if he so wishes.

2. It lets them play "Show Me" without being bound to a deal they may not like 6 months down the road. The board member is afraid of being trapped.

3. It gives you a chance to give Service Service Service...They know what you are doing, why you are doing it, they see the progress twice a month, they are given the opportunity to give feedback at all times in the process. This does not happen often.

4. It frees both of you from the "File Spec Chains"...Where they try to get more than the file spec and you try to stay on the file spec. Deviations are agreed to as they happen.

Hope this helps you

Dave McQueen

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As a FileMaker developer, I have to deal with a similar hurdle quite often. "Oh, FileMaker is just some fringe Mac product, right? It's not a real business application." I show them my portfolio, and I point them at this link:


Which includes the following awards:

PC Magazine "Editors' Choice" Award

PC World

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