I 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.)
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.
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.
How to approach a custom development project
I’ve developed many custom solutions for clients over the years. Some big, some small, and many in between. Here are some of the things I’ve learned that help new projects go smoothly. I use FileMaker as my tool, but these things apply no matter what technology you’re using. If you’re considering a brand new custom development project, keep these things in mind to help make it a success: