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What I Learned From Working With a Big Team

Working on a team is different from going solo

Working on a team is different from going solo

I’ve been working very hard for the last few months on a project to integrate FileMaker with a corporate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Originally, the official decision was to work towards replacing the current FileMaker solution with the enterprise-level tool, but in the end it was much too expensive and inflexible to do so, and FileMaker won the day! (Phew.)

We just implemented into the live environment and everything seems to be going smoothly (so far!).

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How to Waste Time and Fail At Requirements: Ignore End Users

iStock_000005290011XSmallI have been in meetings recently where some consultants, tasked with building an enterprise software solution based on a FileMaker solution I built, keep asking, “What are the fields and data types the system is tracking?”. Various people involved ask me over and over for lists of fields and tables, and I dutifully give them lists of fields and tables. They ask me for sample data, I give them sample data. Invariably they keep calling me back to meetings. “We looked at the lists of fields and tables. We looked at the sample data. We looked at the requirements documents. So, what are we supposed to be doing?” (I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.)

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Human vs Computer: Manage Database Records Using an Algorithm

Ordering records using an algorithmIn his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel prize-winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman points out, “Several studies have shown that human decision makers are inferior to a prediction formula even when they are given the score suggested by the formula!” He uses as an example an algorithm that predicts the future price of Bordeaux wines using three weather-related variables, which has an accuracy of .90!

It might seem surprising that a formula can make better predictions than a human expert. After all, we know that computers are not as “smart” as people are. They can’t learn the way we do, make associations, accommodate to changing rules, or get the concept of humour. They do, however, make mathematical calculations much faster than people can, more accurately, and over much larger sets. And they don’t second-guess themselves over the results.

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Hire a Professional or Do-It-Yourself?

FileMaker is famous for being easy to use. That reputation is well-deserved. You can certainly create your own applications to solve business problems, or use one of the Starter Solutions out of the box. If you can use Excel, you can use FileMaker too.

On the other hand, at some point you might find it useful to hire a professional developer or consultant to help build your solution.

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10 Keys to Communicating Effectively With Developers

Effective communication

Who's on first? Don't let a lack of good communication turn your project into an Abbott & Costello routine

Effective communication is arguably the most important aspect of a custom software development project. Good communication facilitates teamwork, while a lack thereof can stop a project dead in its tracks.

Getting information across and being understood in turn is key to a successful IT project implementation. The client communicates their needs to the developer, who must translate those needs into features that work with the chosen technology. Once underway, regular, two-way communication keeps a project moving along and allows you to discover issues earlier than you otherwise might.

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