In July 2010 FileMaker Inc. launched the first version of FileMaker Go for the iPhone and the iPad, beginning the push towards mobility and extending FileMaker’s reach beyond the office and into the field. FileMaker Go was particularly helpful for service businesses that had staff working remotely onsite with customers – for example servicing customer equipment or performing scheduled maintenance. FileMaker Go allowed these service workers to make the move away from paper and to a digital solution that help removed unnecessary paper work and data entry.
Over the past six years we’ve helped implement a number of FileMaker Go based mobility solutions for customers that have helped transform the way they do business. A typical workflow before FileMaker Go would like something like this:
- office staff would allocate jobs for technicians/service staff via an office based FileMaker solution
- these would be printed off and collected by the service workers at the start of each day
- service workers would complete the jobs and record all the information in paper forms
- at the end of the day the service staff would return to the head office and deliver the completed forms to an office based worker who would then re-enter the same data in the office database
With the introduction of FileMaker Go we can now extend the reach of the office FileMaker system to the remote field workers. An integrated FileMaker Go custom app can transform the old workflow in many ways and eliminate a lot of paper based forms and double data entry. As a result the new workflow looks like this:
- office staff allocate jobs for the remote field workers
- using an iPhone or iPad running a FileMaker Go custom app the service staff download any jobs allocated to them each day containing all the details of the job, customer details and equipment details
- service staff visit each customer (they can view their address using Google Maps direct from FileMaker Go) and record details about each job. This might include time spent on site, parts used, equipment readings, photos and asignature from the customer who approves the job
- if required an invoice can be generated and sent via email as a PDF onsite to the customer
- at the end of the day or after each job is completed the data is uploaded back to the office system which in turn triggers a new workflow (e.g. to set the next follow up date, issue an invoice if one was not delivered onsite etc)
With an integrated FileMaker Go solution there is no longer any requirement to re-enter data back in the office, a process that can often take multiple hours each day. This frees up office staff to perform more meaningful and productive work (and can also mean you don’t need to hire as many staff or temp workers to perform this work).
FileMaker Go can help transform any service based business, regardless of whether you’re currently using a FileMaker solution in the office. We’ve implemented FileMaker Go/mobile solutions in many different industries over the past six years, including:
- Real Estate – allowing property management staff to download a list of properties requiring end of lease inspections and complete the inspections onsite. All completed inspections are then uploaded to a central database back in the office and reports send to the landlord
- Equipment Inspections – we have a number of customers that need to perform regular scheduled inspections on equipment such as septic tanks, gas tanks and properties. Inspections are allocated to a particular staff or area and then downloaded either daily or monthly as required and uploaded when completed.
- Electricians – allowing electricians to download daily jobs and record time and parts used onsite for each job and upload back to the office each day
In recognition of how FileMaker Go can help service based businesses FileMaker Inc. has recently released a free Small Business Service Business Toolkit to help small businesses plan, create and deploy a custom app that will enable them to maximize customer satisfaction, drive growth and increase profitability. The Toolkit includes an eBook with case studies showing how small businesses, by replacing pen-and-paper processes with custom apps built using the FileMaker Platform, are experiencing tremendous improvements in overall work performance.