FileMaker is frankly an unassuming name for what’s actually an incredible suite of development tools. Custom applications created through FileMaker can streamline business operations and maximize employee effectiveness. Even if you’ve used FileMaker in the past, the changes and additions made in the last several years mean it’s a drastically different, more robust application.
What is FileMaker?
FileMaker began as a way to allow anyone to create simple bits of code to help automate or streamline processes at their small to midsize business. And while it’s still designed to give anyone access to designing simple tasks, it’s grown into something much greater. While the barrier for entry is still low, the skill ceiling is much, much higher.
As FileMaker evolved, it became a system that allowed those same small to midsize businesses to create (or hire someone to create) custom apps and platforms tailored specifically to their business. It’s effectively giving everyone access to the kinds of tailor-made internal platforms previously reserved for massive corporations.
How Does it Work?
In the simplest terms, for anyone with a low-code background (meaning anyone who isn’t a developer), FileMaker works as a series of databases that look similar to an Excel spreadsheet. FileMaker makes it simple to then create relationships between these databases. In these cases, a business owner could create a “relationship” that automatically sends an email out to a customer after a payment is recorded.
However, as mentioned previously, FileMaker can be much more complex. Certified developers— like Kyo Logic— can create GUIs (Graphic User Interfaces) and overlays that make these systems much easier to use, and those relationships can be amazingly complex. For these developers, they can use FileMaker to create a fully tailor-made, optimized CRM or ERP system.
It’s best to think of FileMaker like a paintbrush and set of paints. Anyone can pick them up and draw a picture, but the difference between a first-time artist and seasoned professional is massive.
What Does it Mean for My Business?
In the hands of the right development team, it means access to a custom-built platform like Salesforce or Netsuite at a fraction of the cost. Business can create a system to replace outdated and outmoded platforms they’re currently using. FileMaker is secure and scalable, so it can be used to create anything from a payment portal for a website, to an in-store point of sale system, to inventory management, to payroll databases. If a solution is needed, it can be crafted through FileMaker.
Are There Any Drawbacks to FileMaker?
For small to midsize businesses or projects, the answer is frankly “no.” FileMaker is flexible and feature-rich enough that there is very little it can’t do out-of-the-box, or be programmed to do by a knowledgeable development team. While it scales very well, it’s not ideal for massive corporations with thousands and thousands of concurrent users. But that said, departments within those large companies could very well use a FileMaker-based program for their needs.
How Do I Use FileMaker?
FileMaker and its associated services are available online, so setup is quick and easy. While some tutorials are available online, it’s ideal to take classes and get hands-on experience. That’s typically all one would need if they’re just looking to create something simple. However, professional developers take years of classes and credits, and typically have multiple certifications.
We recommend having a conversation with a FileMaker developer before making any purchases or commitments internally. It’s critical to understand the scope, goals, and expectations of the product. We’re happy to have a conversation with you to best assess your needs and make recommendations. You can reach out to us here.