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Custom FileMaker Project Management Application Case Study

Case Study: Custom FileMaker Project Management Application

Executive Summary

FileMaker is a low code development platform that can be manipulated to streamline and/or digitize virtually any workflow, from asset management to revenue tracking via a FileMaker and QuickBooks integration. It can even be as robust to function as a comprehensive project management system.

Running a business is no easy task. And, efficiently running that business is doubly tricky. Imagine you need to track customer contacts, project tasks, and employee information and time all in a secure, centralized, yet accessible, easy-to-use platform. The FileMaker platform not only makes it possible but ensures accuracy and reliability.

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The Scenario

A relatively small technology consulting company wanted to move from an inflexible, slow, and restrictive Java-based project management application to a system that would scale and grow with the business. Furthermore, the consultants and staff were geographically distributed across the United States, so the software had to offer different accessibility options.

The project management tool had to be as real-time as possible so that managers could organize workloads and revenue effectively. Security and ease of use were also essential requirements for the system. Of course, the application needed to be performative and responsive. Users generally respond positively to software that does not hinder their work, so it had to be fast. It also needed to work on the types of devices they prefer, whether it be desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile phones.


The Challenges 

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  • Streamline the process of tracking and managing project tasks, deadlines, deliverables, etc.
  • Integrate a contact management component to organize lead and customer data and maintain control over the entire lifecycle.
  • Make it easy and convenient for consultants to enter their billable time and focus on their applicable projects and tasks.
  • Limit administrative permissions to protect personnel privacy and maintain the system's integrity. 
  • Host the applications in the Cloud so everyone can access the files wherever and whenever.

The Solution

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The original project management application did not allow the consulting firm to adjust to different project management tactics. And, users could not change or customize the fields or functionality to suit their needs.

We initially developed a program using a FileMaker desktop client, but that did not adequately satisfy the accessibility requirement. So, we rearchitected the solution to run on FileMaker WebDirect, which extended the capabilities from desktop to a Web browser. WebDirect expands access through web browsers and is practical because users don't have to install any ancillary software. In addition, browsers are readily available on various devices and screen sizes.

The solution ultimately fulfilled each of the functional requirements. And after more than ten years, it is still being used, though it has gradually transformed over the years. Users navigate the application with as few clicks as possible, and the developers strategically designed the layouts to minimize manual entry.

The application has advanced and scaled along with the consulting business. When the organization adopts new approaches to software development, its FileMaker application is able to accommodate new workflows. For example, scrum functionality was implemented at one point simply by adding some fields and adjusting the application's utilities. It was a relatively quick and easy change to make.

The app has undergone two design iterations since its introduction more than ten years ago. For instance, our developers implemented modern style elements such as dark mode, which changes the screen from light to dark at night. Dark mode helps preserve a device's battery life, and it's rumored to reduce strain on the eyes, though that has not been proven.

And when the company turned to QuickBooks to manage its bookkeeping and accounting operations, developers integrated the two systems. Essentially, billing data is pushed from the FileMaker application to QuickBooks to eliminate double entry.

Some technologies used 

  • Claris FileMaker
  • FileMaker WebDirect
  • FileMaker Server

The Results

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  • The system is highly reliable and accurate due to the complex validation rules that the developers implemented behind the scenes.
  • Business operations are optimized by monitoring a dashboard that reflects project progress in real-time and scheduling brief weekly meetings to review tasks and milestones.
  • Management can run reports in a matter of hours instead of days to respond to customer questions confidently and promptly.
  • Consultants enter their time regularly because the system is straightforward to use and accessible.
  • Productivity continuously improves as developers directly implement new features and enhancements based on user feedback since the app is flexible and scalable.

The certified FileMaker developers at The Support Group help organizations of all types and sizes improve their workflows with custom solutions. We've developed various software programs for many unique business needs. Learn more about custom software use cases. And feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you improve your productivity.

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