We at Anvil Dataworks have had the pleasure of working will all kinds of businesses and all kinds of solutions. In our experience, most buyers of custom FileMaker development are looking for a solution based on value and return on investment. But sometimes, buyers can get caught up in the hourly rate cost and make poor vendor choice decisions based on price alone. Here’s what happened to two of our customers. We want to share these lessons so you don’t make similar mistakes when choosing a FileMaker developer for your next project.
The first client is an association based in Washington DC. Last year, we bid $140 an hour for 100 or $14,000 on a database solution for them. A competitor bid $100 an hour for 125 hours and won based solely on price. The client figured the overall price was lower, and if future work would be needed, the hourly rate would be lower as well. Fast forward to this year, when the client brought us back in to fix the problems the other developer caused and to finish the project! The client had already spent over $20,000 (yes, more than the original quote and higher than our proposal) and still didn’t have a working solution. It wasn’t complete because the developer, a sole proprietor, had taken a lot of time off around the holidays for vacation. When we dug into the system, we determined that the foundation of the database was unsound. Not only was the system inefficient, it was also unreliable and slow. We had to recommend that the client scrap the whole thing and start over from the beginning with our original design and quote. We are working on it now, and the project should be completed soon within the budget we originally determined. Unfortunately, the client had to spend $34,000 for a solution they could have paid $14,000 and been done by now.
Our second example is of a commercial client that again, chose a competitor whose proposal offered a lower rate than ours. It had many more hours, and the total was close to our proposal. Swayed by the low hourly rate, the client chose the competitor. Fast forward to this year, when we have been brought back in to fix and finish the solution. Their system design was sound, but our competitor required so much micro-management, that the client felt they could have just done it in house! The client wasted money and time in managing the project. The client knew Anvil Dataworks is extremely capable of listening to their business goals and processes, and turn all that into a well-designed, workable solution. We were brought in because we can design, develop, and manage complex development projects on time and within budget.
Price should definitely be a factor when choosing a developer for a project but it shouldn’t be the only factor. When interviewing and determining who should build your custom software solutions, these are some points you can consider. With these criteria, a client can be assured that a development organization can design, build and deliver a solution with the latest tools and experience–on time and within budget.
• FileMaker certified developers should be required. This certification is awarded by FileMaker, Inc. to developers who have passed the certification tests and are considered knowledgeable and experienced FileMaker developers. The current version of certification is 11, and anything recent, but not less than 7, would be acceptable.
• The database development company should be a member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, recognized by FileMaker, Inc. as a company who has priority status with access to FileMaker and the technology. This is important if issues come up and the developer needs a direct line into FileMaker Inc.
• The development organization should have a team of developers (more than one) who can provide support and development services when any developer is on vacation or on personal leave. If the team is in the same or next time zone as the client, that’s a bonus.
• Certifications and size aren’t the only things that matter. In this business, experience counts. The development organization should possess the business savvy and communication skills to turn a client’s wants and desires into a well-built, workable solution. The foundation of a database – the design of the data tables—are extremely important to the overall structure of the solution. Only experienced developers understand this and can build systems with efficiency and effectiveness.
• For Federal Government customers, FileMaker development organization should show that they have experience working with U.S. Federal government projects and can handle sensitive data. The developer should have a GSA schedule with negotiated pricing with the government for FileMaker services, development, training and licensing.
If you are in need of custom FileMaker development, support, or training, please contact us for a customized proposal. We’ll give you a fair price and assurance that your project will be properly managed until its completion.