Our organization is a bit unusual, in terms of database structure. We are not a business, nor are we a school or non-profit organization, though we use practices common to all three. We are a grant-funded project at the University of South Florida that provides information, training, and support to caregivers and professionals who are concerned with individuals with autism and related disabilities. We need to track what we do, and who we do it with, in order to report our activities to the state agency that funds the project. We also use our stored information to set up training events, fundraising events, and special work groups. We search our table of service providers for resource & referral information.
We "grew up" with FileMaker, beginning to develop our own solutions back in the old flat file days. We thought we were hot stuff when we learned to create related files that could talk to each other after FM3 came out. All people, companies, and other entities were housed in one "master" file, and activities, which related back to a master record, if we were lucky, were stored in a related file. We had a few other files around the edges of the two main files, each one capturing different information, and not always capable of relating back to the master file in a meaningful way.
Our data needs became more sophisticated in 2006/2007, so we thought we would upgrade by dropping our old files onto the FM7 icon, tweak a few fields, and be done with it. Then I went to DevCon in 2006, and realized version 7 was more than just an upgrade.
We approached our Director, doing our best to make our eyes look like Puss in Boots' in the Shrek movie, and asked if we could pretty-please hire a developer for our new system. She said yes.
We initially approached Chris at Extensitech because we thought making the best use of the new structure and power of FileMaker might be a "little bit" over our heads.
Chris met with us to get an idea of what we were looking for, patiently listened to the specialized jargon we used to describe what we do, then began to formulate how he could adapt his own business-based template to our unique needs. He picked up our mission and our processes amazingly quickly. He even used our own terminology in order to help us relate to his suggestions for the new database.
His background in business operations led him to offer ways we could change the flow of our work in order to capture information more efficiently in a database setting.
Despite some initial resistance to change, we learned to trust what he was telling us, and just say, "Yes". Eventually, we rolled out the new system, everyone survived the process, and we have been very pleased with how much easier it has become to do our jobs. Team members who would never touch the old, much simpler system, are now entering their own data like pros. That's because the system does what they need it to do.
On the ratings scales, I marked that our productivity and time saved have gone up significantly, not incredibly. That is due to factors not related to the database. Our intake numbers have skyrocketed, and we are swamped with phone calls, emails, and requests for information and training.
Chris has been patient with us every step of the way, through development, roll-out, staff training, and follow-up, proving that he is not only a brilliant developer, but also an excellent communicator. When we need to make changes or additions to the system, he is always responsive, and quick to understand what we are asking for. Changes are most often made during a phone call or GoToMeeting session.
We would like to recommend Chris and Extensitech highly, for any of your database needs. He is good at what he does, good at understanding what you do, and he's good at talking with you about it.
Quality of WorkExcellent