I’ve been using Filemaker for about 8 years as a standalone desktop database to keep track of work completed in our property valuations business. This worked fine when I was the only one who needed to access the database but scaling it for access by all our staff, including those in remote offices, proved problematic. Filemaker offers a technology they call “Web Direct” but it proved to be slow & limited in what remote users could achieve. As we prefer not to have to maintain an in-house server, I arranged to have my database hosted on a server, and bought a copy of the software for each staff member (high expense and installation hassles). However it was frustratingly slow and the host kept disconnecting us, meaning we had to log back in several times a day.
In addition, we wanted to be able to record the details of local sold properties for the valuers to use as comparable sales in their valuations. The sales needed to be easily searchable and most importantly easy to export into Microsoft WORD format, along with their photos, to enable the valuers to write their own commentary alongside each sale in their valuation report. Filemaker was easy to search and see the sales we wanted to use, but required a lot of fiddling with merge fields & mail merge to get the data out and into WORD. As Filemaker cannot export container fields, getting the photos out of Filemaker and into WORD was a major problem, so we started to look for an alternative. We tried MS Access, and we tested a few other online solutions, but none of them could export the photos into WORD. We even tried .pdf exports and then trying to edit the pdf, but the layout changed too much to be useful.
Then I discovered TeamDesk which exports easily to WORD. Initially, I intended to use it only to record the sales, with the rest of our business data to remain in the old Filemaker database.
However, after only a week, impressed by the speed and stability of the TeamDesk platform compared to our hosted solution, I decided to use the free trial period to investigate moving all of our business data to TeamDesk too. By the end of the trial, I had all our old data into TeamDesk and had experimented with Relationships and Workflows. My queries to the TeamDesk support team were always answered efficiently and the whole process went quite smoothly.
Already, our new TeamDesk database is efficiently handling our job records, contacts, team collaboration (messages & to-do’s), invoicing, IT records and sales records. Its flexibility makes me confident that it will cope with any new ideas we come up with.
Browsing through TeamDesk’s Idea Exchange has assured me that this is a company who is listening to its users. The platform is constantly being improved in response to user feedback. Although to be fair, I must admit there are some features of Filemaker that I miss, (such as keyboard shortcuts, and scrolling between records), these are minor gripes given how much faster, more integrated and more comprehensive our new system is!