The newly launched BusinessMan management system from Computech is built on the Apple owned award-winning FileMaker data base software. Available in two versions, BusinessMan Pro and BusinessMan Enterprise, the software allows companies to manage all aspects of their business from prospect first contact to invoice.
Developed by Computech IT Services, a FileMaker developer based in Saltash, Cornwall, the BusinessMan software is billed as a comprehensive, modular, CRM system. Macworld caught up with Mike Holman, Sales Manager at FileMaker Services to find out more about the company, BusinessMan and FileMaker.
Q. What sort of platform does FileMaker give you for developing business software?
FileMaker is an award winning cross-platform database development environment. It is a graphical environment offering extremely RAD (Rapid Application Development). Therefore, custom requirements can be turned around quickly, with a low cost, meaning that the customer gets what they want quickly and it doesn’t stretch their purse strings.
More than 15 million units of FileMaker software have been sold to customers around the world. Customers include individuals and small businesses everywhere, all of the top 50 universities in the U.S., the top 250 U.S. school districts, and 70 of the Fortune 100 companies.
Q. And do you think FileMaker is particularly suited to business or does it have wider appeal/uses?
If you can use a spreadsheet, you can use FileMaker. An Excel spreadsheet can be simply converted to a database just by dragging and dropping the spreadsheet on the FileMaker icon. You then have the additional power and ease of use of FileMaker, to manipulate your data and rapidly perform complex analysis or simple storage of data with surprising ease.
Even if you wanted to keep an inventory of all your home valuables, your music collection or record the cost of running your home, FileMaker makes this easy! In fact, FileMaker comes with ready to use, simple applications that you can adapt for your own use.
Q. You teach FileMaker, how easy it is to learn?
FileMaker is extremely easy to learn. We recently had a customer who, as a consultant, wanted to perform some analysis on a collection of data for one of her customers. She had provisionally booked a full day of training, but her requirements were met and completed within a few hours.
One of the ways in which we provide training, is to help customers develop their own solution. It is always much easier to teach people when they have a specific need, rather than just trying to teach them product knowledge. People are extremely surprised how quickly they can build the foundations for their solution.
Q. And how quickly can users develop their own software solutions based on FileMaker?
The speed of development with FileMaker is extremely rapid, especially when compared to the likes of .Net/Java/etc, which are very low level programming languages. What may take many weeks or months in one of the aforementioned coding environments may be possible in FileMaker to achieve in days.
FileMaker is also extremely flexible in that it can integrate with these other technologies, so you can always find a resolution to your needs. All of the most modern database platforms, such as Microsoft SQL, MySQL and Oracle can be seamlessly integrated within the FileMaker Schema to integrate with corporate data environments, share on the web, and grow as your needs grow.
Q. FileMaker is both Mac and PC compatible. Is it complicated to develop for two platforms?
A FileMaker application developed on a Windows machine can be used without modification on a Mac. A PC or Mac server, hosting a FileMaker database can have both Mac and Windows users at the same time – this is the same database and the same data.
The layouts are exactly the same on the Mac and Windows platforms so there is no learning curve for the end user. For example, a developer can develop a FileMaker application on their Windows PC during the day and take it home and continue the development on a Mac in the evening.
Q. How does the BusinessMan software help users?
The BusinessMan system is a comprehensive business management tool that allows companies to manage their business from end to end. Using the inbuilt marketing tools, prospects can be gathered and processed, converted to customers, and their orders created and managed. The financial aspects are taken care of by the inbuilt invoicing, sales order processing and purchase order processing.
A successful business need to keep a tight rein on their costs. BusinessMan provides all the tools required for this by providing costing tools for quotations, jobs and orders. Full stock control is provided so stock levels can be monitored and managed.
It is also very important that managers know the disposition of all the resources. Businessman provides the tools to do this with a comprehensive resource management system. Whether the resource is a member of staff, a vehicle, a meeting room, projector or any other item that requires time management, the scheduling system provided with BusinessMan allows you to do this.
All businesses have their own way of working and as we have built BusinessMan from scratch, we can customise it so that it can work the way you want to work and not the way the software tells you to.
Whatever the type of business you have, BusinessMan fits.
Q. Do new users need to be familiar with FileMaker?
As far as users are concerned, they do not need to know that FileMaker is behind BusinessMan. Any software application developed in FileMaker can be driven in a completely different way to the next – there is no de facto standard. However, we try very hard to develop intuitive interfaces for our applications so that the user finds the required function without too much effort.
We leave the complexities ‘under the hood’ leaving a layer of silk on top for the user to skate around on. We try to help the user along their way, ensuring that they cannot commit errors or end-up lost somewhere where they shouldn’t. We have had extremely positive feedback from our BusinessMan application regarding the UI (User Interface) which is very rewarding news for us.
We also provide one-to-one or one-to-many training sessions over the web, using desktop to desktop presentation software. Whether there is one user present or ten at the customer site, there is one fixed charge, making the learning process even easier and cheaper.
We believe that there should be no hidden surprises for users, so we include everything but the computer - however, we can do - to get the user up and running, so yes, BusinessMan comes complete with a FileMaker license too. Multi-user versions also come with FileMaker Server Advanced, it really is a fantastic bundle.
Q. Finally what can we expect from Computech IT Services/FileMaker Services in the near future?
We have already lined up resellers in Australia and Malaysia and are in talks with companies in South Africa and the US, therefore we hope that you will all be seeing a lot more of Computech in the future.
We also have another feature product due to be released in Q2 of 2010 which is aimed more at the Service industry. With every customer quite rightly wanting to work in their own way, we hope BusinessMan can provide the foundation for their business. We have developed BusinessMan from the ground up, any customisation is available, and thus the possibilities really are only limited to your imagination.
(See the new BusinessMan business management system from Computech at www.businessmancrm.com)