improve-efficiency

What to Look for in a Business Workflow Specialist

Alongside your network, your business’s workflows are the backbone of your day-to-day operations. As with your technology, it’s vital to continually clarify and refine your team’s workflows to maximize workplace productivity and propel growth. Companies frequently do not have the internal resources—whether it be time, expertise, or a combination of both—to gain in-depth insights into operational workflows and how to improve them. That’s why finding the right business workflow specialist is a critical step to achieving your growth goals.

But where do you start, and what should you look for? In this post, we’ll break down the fundamentals of business workflows and explore where the FileMaker experts at Skeleton Key fit into the picture.

The Fundamentals of Business Workflows

Fundamentally, a workflow is any process you and your team follow to get work done. As such, a workflow is composed of the individual tasks that help you arrive at a defined business goal. However, in order to be a viable business process workflow, it must be repeatable. It’s not merely a one-time project or task. Instead, it’s a series of tasks your team regularly completes to achieve a specific goal. Therefore, a workflow can be as simple as the procedure for how an accounting department reports on receivables at the end of the month or as complex as the steps a company follows to perform an end-of-year inventory audit.

How a Business Workflow Specialist Can Help

The first step to streamlining business workflows begins with thorough documentation. After all,  how can you begin improving processes without clarifying each team member’s workflows? As a brainstorming exercise, you can start by listing the critical tasks your business performs each day. From there, you can determine whether these tasks represent a workflow in themselves or are a small part of a larger workflow. Merely listing out day-to-day tasks only gets you so far, however. That’s where a business workflow specialist can help.

A business workflow specialist can help you transform that list of seemingly disparate tasks into dynamic diagrams of how your organization operates at every level. With the power of business workflow software, a workflow specialist clarifies, tracks, and documents your business processes with interconnected flow charts that pinpoint inefficiencies, opportunities for growth, and project bottlenecks.

To achieve this goal, the right workflow specialist works with you to clarify:

  • How is each task performed and completed?
  • Who is completing each task, and who is in charge of overseeing each step?
  • Which tools, hardware, and software do employees rely on to complete each task?

By answering these questions, your organization can start clarifying ways to streamline workflows by automating repetitive tasks, building better tools, and prioritizing accountability. That’s precisely where Skeleton Key can help.

Transforming Inefficiency Into Productivity

When you work with a business workflow specialist, you need a team that can do more than merely pinpoint inefficiency. The right business workflow partner should also have the skills and tools to transform your operational inefficiencies into a more productive work environment. At Skeleton Key, our experts specialize in bridging that gap by first helping you understand organizational workflows on a deeper level and then designing a customized software platform to simplify and streamline those workflows.

In short, we not only have the theory to streamline workflow management, but we also have the tools for doing so. Our approach to workflow project management allows us to oversee every step of your business workflows, from diagramming with workflow tools to automating workflows that are repetitive and ripe for automation. 

With this goal in mind, we can help you save time, increase employee productivity, and cultivate a more balanced work life by leveraging the power of the FileMaker Workplace Innovation Platform. With our approach, we can design and deploy a customized software solution in a matter of weeks, instead of the months or even years required for conventional software development.

Start Streamlining Business Workflows With Skeleton Key

Are you interested in both clarifying and streamlining your team’s workflows under one umbrella project? Skeleton Key is the partner you need. We take a hands-on approach to understanding your operational workflow, so that we can then design a customized software solution around your broader organizational goals. Get in touch with our FileMaker experts today to start exploring how your employees can get more done in less time.

adaptability

Software That Facilitates Business Agility and Adaptability

Has your business’s software tools ever slowed your team down? Have you been disappointed by the static capabilities of off-the-shelf software in the past? For organizations that prioritize business agility and adaptability, these are common challenges that quickly interfere with broader goals and objectives. Fortunately, there’s a Workplace Innovation Platform built with your struggles in mind—FileMaker.

If these struggles sound familiar, you’ve likely never heard of FileMaker before. In this post, we’ll explore why a FileMaker solution is the logical next step for businesses that need to remain agile in today’s ever-changing business environment.

Understanding Business Agility and Adaptability

In the business environment, agility is the ability of an organization to rapidly identify, respond to, and evolve with internal and external changes to achieve broader objectives. Markets, consumer preferences, and supply chains are changing faster in today’s world than ever before. If your software tools don’t expedite adaptability, it’s only a matter of time before your business gets left behind.

Starting With Spreadsheets

Many of the growth-oriented businesses we work with started out by entering, tracking, and managing data with an ever-increasing framework of spreadsheets. But when you’re focused on growing your business, it’s easy to lose track of which spreadsheet is most up to date, what data has been shared with which users, and how you’re securing that data. Most importantly, inefficient data management is a distraction that draws you away from doing the work you most enjoy.

For businesses that prioritize adaptability, spreadsheets simply don’t have the flexibility to align with your long-term strategic plan. While you don’t necessarily need something more complex, you do need a platform that offers a centralized data resource with the customization features to evolve with your team’s workflows. That’s precisely where the FileMaker platform excels.

Simplifying Complex Data

The problem with relying on spreadsheets to manage ever-growing amounts of data is that they have to become increasingly complex to achieve that goal. In contrast, the FileMaker platform allows you to track, analyze, and store larger amounts of data while grounding that data in a centralized, easy-to-use software solution.

If your team members already know how to use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to manage spreadsheets, they can just as quickly learn how to use a customized FileMaker solution to accomplish the same tasks more efficiently. Plus, all of your data sources are updated in real time to ensure that everyone in your organization always has access to the most relevant, up-to-date information.

We Begin With Business Process Planning

Skeleton Key leverages the power of the FileMaker platform to deliver a customized software solution that prioritizes business adaptability and agility. With Skeleton Key on your team, you’ll never have to worry about your business software holding you back again. That’s because our experts take the time to understand your business processes from the inside out. Whether you have a clear vision for what your software needs to do or merely a rough blueprint of your team’s workflows, we have the skills to bridge the gap between your business’s ongoing evolution and the software you need to succeed.

If you’re ready to start exploring how the power of the FileMaker platform can transform the inevitability of change into a catalyst for growth, contact the team at Skeleton Key today.

illumination of sun

FileMaker Is Evolving to Become Claris

teardrop trailer manufacturer FileMaker solution

How Skeleton Key Helped a Manufacturing Company Streamline Production

Skeleton Key specializes in leveraging the power of the FileMaker platform to streamline operations for companies in every industry. Here’s how we helped a manufacturing company develop a more seamless experience for customers, employees, and the production process.

The Work Rut at Vistabule Teardrop Trailers

vistibule logo

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Vistabule designs, manufactures, and sells highly customizable teardrop trailers. All of their trailers are made to order, so tracking orders at every stage of the production process is critical to customer satisfaction. Previously, customers had to download and fill out an Excel worksheet to place an order. The process was time-consuming, confusing, and prone to errors because customers had to work with a complicated pricing sheet in Excel.

On an operational level, relying on Excel spreadsheets for tracking trailer orders made it difficult to stay on top of critical metrics. Vistabule had no easy way to report on or predict future costs related to the parts they used. This struggle also resulted in shortages of in-demand components, leading to delayed manufacturing timelines. And if manufacturers placed recalls on specific parts Vistabule had used in the past, there was no easy way to track which parts had ended up on which trailer so they could notify customers.

In short, Vistabule was plagued by a complicated customer experience along with needing a centralized platform for data management, pricing orders, order status tracking, shipping timelines, invoicing, reporting, and customer relationship management. Vistabule had hit a work rut that was holding them back from achieving their broader business goals.

How Skeleton Key Helped Vistabule Overcome Inefficiency

The FileMaker solution Skeleton Key built for Vistabule has provided them with:

Seamless Integration

To tackle the problem of an inefficient, complicated ordering system, our team first developed a solution with a building and estimating tool. This tool integrates with other features of their system to track orders, invoicing, the status of specific parts, expected shipping dates, demand forecasts, and customer engagement. Now Vistabule has access to the critical data they rely on for day-to-day operations consolidated in one centralized platform.

WebDirect Ordering

Our team is also in the process of rolling out an intelligent and guided WebDirect version of their FileMaker solution to make it easier for future customers to place orders directly on Vistabule’s website. That way customers will no longer be confused by a tedious spreadsheet, and Vistabule will no longer struggle with trying to track orders in Excel.

Improved Customer Safety

The FileMaker solution we built for Vistabule makes it easy for their team to prioritize customer safety. Part orders are linked to customers and tracked in the system, so all of the components Vistabule uses on a trailer are connected to the owner. In the event of a recall, Vistabule will know exactly which customers are affected and be able to notify them accordingly.

Simplified Customer Relations

Vistabule now has the ability to track potential customers who are interested in their products, making marketing a breeze while converting prospects into happy customers.

Forecasts for Parts

Vistabule’s FileMaker solution accounts for how many customers order specific parts to ensure that those critical parts are always on hand by the time they’re needed in the manufacturing process. They can also create intuitive reports that help them align their operations and inventory with what customers want.

More Efficient Workflows

Ultimately, with our solution, the team at Vistabule saves substantial time that in the past would have been spent putting in orders and tracking down parts. Tracking customer orders and parts is now an intuitive process. Actionable information is always just a click away, and orders are delivered to customers in a more timely manner.

Skeleton Key Is Here to Help You Next

Has this case study given you some ideas about how a FileMaker solution can help streamline your business operations? If so, contact the experts at Skeleton Key today. Our team will work with you to create a customized solution around your unique inefficiencies and broader goals. When you partner with Skeleton Key, your team always has the tools to succeed today while preparing for the challenges tomorrow may bring.

creative team working

A Creative Services Introduction to FileMaker

For teams in the creative services industry, staying flexible is critical to the successful design and deployment of projects. At the same time, having to perform repetitive tasks frequently interferes with tasks that require a more creative touch. Fortunately, the FileMaker Platform can help your organization overcome both of these challenges with customized software built around your team’s workflows.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the real-world inefficiencies the FileMaker Platform is designed to streamline, so you can transform how your creative team works at every level.

Project Management

If your team uses multiple software platforms to track and manage ongoing projects, it doesn’t take much to delay project timelines. From losing track of critical documents to having to switch between multiple applications and reenter the same status and tracking information multiple times, having disparate and disconnected software systems ultimately breeds inefficiency.

FileMaker allows you to consolidate disparate software programs and database systems into one centralized platform. At the same time, your team members can continue using the specialized tools and services they still need  without worrying about losing track of any aspect of their projects.

Ultimately, using a customized FileMaker solution to oversee your creative projects allows your organization to deliver more predictable timelines. You’ll also minimize project overhead by more efficiently utilizing project management resources, potentially allowing your team to manage more projects in less time.

Photo Management

Whether your organization relies on photographs to create advertisements or track assets, a FileMaker solution can help you manage those photos more efficiently and effectively. With powerful search capabilities and the ability to leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, your team can quickly tag and find the images they need based on specific criteria. At the same time, FileMaker’s mobile platform allows everyone in your organization to access those same photos whenever  work takes them into the field on photo shoots or client site visits.

Video Production and Editing

A customized FileMaker solution can allow your team to track every second of every shot at every stage from production to post-production. By allowing you to track where you’re at during every stage of creation and editing, you can quickly identify any roadblocks or conflicts that might impact how you’re allocating talent or equipment. Since your entire team can work on a shared platform, FileMaker significantly minimizes the risk of miscommunication at every stage. And with robust reporting features, you can schedule automated project updates to keep all key stakeholders updated on timelines while you focus on more critical tasks.

Organizations in the creative services industry have even used the FileMaker Platform to develop compelling visual effects programs customized to their needs. Since visual effects often require processing vast amounts of data and the FileMaker Platform specializes in just that, a tailored program offers an ideal opportunity to streamline video production and post-production.

Advertising Design and Strategy

From tracking advertisement assets during development to finding the ideal locations to place those ads, FileMaker makes it easy to ensure you’re maximizing every client’s advertising budget. These capabilities allow your team to stay focused on the more creative aspects of designing attention-grabbing ads. At the same time, FileMaker’s data API capabilities can even allow you to track the ongoing success of advertisements, so you can further refine marketing strategies with real-time data.

Apparel and Fashion

For a clothing or fashion-oriented organization, FileMaker can manage all your mission-critical tasks, including:

  • Inventory tracking and management
  • Online and offline sales
  • Design and production

With FileMaker, your team will be able to track every step of your next project, thereby maximizing communication and collaboration while minimizing obstacles or bottlenecks. And with an intuitive user interface that can be crafted to match your unique workflow and perspective, your team members can quickly learn the intricacies of your solution so they can integrate it into their day-to-day tasks right away.

Web Design and SEO

Effective web design and the ability to be found by customers have become critical aspects of ensuring the ongoing success for businesses in every industry. FileMaker can simplify every aspect of web design and search engine optimization (SEO) for both your own internal operations and those of your clients. From tracking critical keywords to performing website audits and tracking design changes, the FileMaker platform makes it easy to ensure you’re maintaining a strong online presence in an increasingly digital world.

Partner with the Experts at Skeleton Key

Whether your team has hit a work rut or disparate software systems have overburdened your day-to-day operations, the FileMaker experts at Skeleton Key are here to help you overcome your barriers to success. We’ve already helped hundreds of organizations in every industry streamline inefficiencies with FileMaker, and we’re ready to help you find innovative solutions to your problems. Contact our team to get started today.

creative team maximizing productivity

How Skeleton Key Helped a Creative Team Maximize Productivity

At Skeleton Key, we help organizations overcome operational inefficiencies by leveraging the power of the FileMaker platform. If you’re looking to gain a clearer understanding of how we accomplish this goal, these are the problems we solved for the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops.

The Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops

basspro

The Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops designs and curates all online content for the brand. In-house designers use vendor samples to develop product images while writers create copy, including product descriptions and web posts, for the site. The department also oversees supplemental tasks like proofing content and shipping notifications before they go live. As a result, the creative team at Bass Pro Shops handles substantial amounts of information on any given day, and the amount of data they manage only increases over time.

The Problem

The Creative Department had been using spreadsheets shared on a network and via email to track projects, photographs, content, and editing, which significantly constricted productivity. For management, the inability to track information and generate accurate reports on demand made it difficult to reliably discern project timelines. Since the systems they were using did not communicate with each other, management struggled to differentiate between projects in progress, items that were stalled, and completed work. Thus, managers had to investigate each project’s status and manually update their systems every step of the way. This approach made it impossible to clarify project timelines at a glance, and managing project spreadsheets became a full-time job in itself. 

With only disparate spreadsheets to go off of, employees struggled with knowing whether or not a vendor sample had been photographed. This information was critical when it came time to store, return, or dispose of a sample. At the same time, each item often had multiple SKUs based on variations in sizes and colors. Ensuring that all of these variables had been accounted for became needlessly complex within their tangle of spreadsheets. The systems they used to track website changes, special events, sales, image production, and copy creation were all disconnected, so critical tasks were often delayed or forgotten altogether.

Before long, their spreadsheets started crashing almost daily, resulting in lost time, data, and reduced productivity. Management realized they did not have a consolidated platform or the reporting tools they needed to continue growing. Simply put, the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops found themselves stuck in a work rut. That’s when they reached out to the experts Skeleton Key.

The Solution

After researching the power of the FileMaker platform and the capabilities of our team, the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops contacted Skeleton Key. Their primary goal was to unify the disparate system they’d been using to track projects, photographs, content, and editing. They also wanted to be able to create powerful reports, so management could quickly survey project status and confirm deadlines were being met. 

Our experts took the time to understand their unique challenges, day-to-day workflows, and broader organizational goals. With in-depth insights into how FileMaker could streamline routine tasks and maximize productivity, we created a customized FileMaker solution using our five-step development process.

The Result

With their new application, the Creative Department now has an intuitive portal for entering and tracking projects, images, SKUs, and all of the other data on which they depend. When managers need to assess progress reports quickly, their database communicates with the requisite systems to deliver real-time reporting. 

Having access to a concurrent platform means every stakeholder and participant in every affected department can be confident that work is done once, tracked effectively, and promptly reported to management. As a result of how easily key stakeholders can find the information they need, the turnaround time for projects has decreased significantly, making it simpler to keep website content up-to-date and relevant.

Overall, with their new FileMaker solution, the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops can accurately track and complete projects more efficiently and effectively. More importantly, they now have the tools to further optimize processes, continue growing, and they’re no longer stuck in a work rut.

Helmcamp-case-study-blog

Construction Company Addresses Operational Inefficiencies with a Mobile FileMaker Solution

The possibilities for a FileMaker solution are so broad it can be difficult for businesses to visualize how FileMaker can streamline their operations. Understanding how Skeleton Key has already helped organizations address operational inefficiencies with a FileMaker solution may give you a clearer idea of how we can help you next. In this post, we’ll take a look at the benefits Helmkamp Construction experienced after partnering with Skeleton Key for a customized FileMaker solution.

The Problemhelmkamp

Helmkamp Construction’s field superintendents had to spend 30 minutes a day entering each employee’s hours on the job site. Some superintendents used pen and paper to track hours and fax them to the home office, while others entered hours into Excel spreadsheets and emailed them. This approach resulted in numerous delays and inconsistencies.

Additionally, superintendents sometimes would enter the wrong job number, phase number, or employee number. The payroll clerk would then have to call superintendents multiple times each week to verify the information on the time sheets. Once all of this was confirmed, the payroll clerk spent roughly 15 hours a week entering the data into accounting software for 80 to 100 employees. As a result, payroll day became a bottleneck as superintendents rushed to get field times to the office so data could be entered into the system and paychecks delivered.

Helmkamp looked at third-party entry solutions to address these inefficiencies, but they were discouraged by high annual fees for each user. That’s when they turned to Skeleton Key and started exploring a FileMaker solution to address these problems cost-effectively.

The Solution

Skeleton Key built a FileMaker solution to help smooth the process of entering work hours in the field. Superintendents access the FileMaker solution and enter time data on iPads protected by rugged cases and connected by Wi-Fi or cellular networks. The solution then works behind the scenes to convert the data into a format that can be used by the company’s payroll team.

Skeleton Key’s team designed the interface to be as intuitive as possible for individuals in the construction industry who may have varying levels of technology experience. The solution is straightforward enough that users can typically get up and running in half an hour or less. Users also have access to customization and management features that allow them to streamline data entry for frequently used items and notes. At the same time, superintendents can only enter and select valid data because it originates from their accounting system.

The Result

After deploying their FileMaker solution, the team at Helmkamp Construction has been able to transform multiple inefficiencies into growth. The solution has virtually eliminated the need for the payroll clerk to call superintendents for clarity. The company also has optimized billing operations because job time data is available to the billing department in real time.

Helmkamp’s FileMaker solution allows superintendents to enter job data in about half the time it used to take. Saving 15 minutes per day at a rate of $65 an hour for 18 superintendents saves the company $293 a day, which translates to $76,180 in cost savings each year. With a FileMaker solution, superintendents are able to use their time to manage jobs and plan work for the next day instead of being bogged down with entering hours manually.

Data entry time for the payroll clerk has been reduced from 15 hours each week to two hours. Because the clerk only has to review information to upload instead of re-keying, this saves $416 a week or $21,632 each year.

The FileMaker solution has also scaled with Helmkamp’s growth. Since deploying their FileMaker solution, the company’s field-deployed construction staff has more than doubled. Even with that growth, Helmkamp hasn’t had to hire additional payroll staff due to their FileMaker solution.

Compared to the annual fees for comparable field time entry systems, the licensing fees for Helmkamp’s FileMaker solution are about 15% to 20% of the cost. Since product licenses are sold for the number of concurrent users rather than for each user, Helmkamp realizes significant savings.

We’re Ready to Help You Next

Interested in exploring how a FileMaker solution can transform the way your team does business? Contact the FileMaker experts at Skeleton Key today. We’ll work with you to pinpoint inefficiencies and develop a solution that propels growth while preparing your team for tomorrow.

SK-May-blog2

How to Drive Productivity With a Workplace Innovation Platform

Boosting workplace productivity is a priority for growth-oriented organizations. Driving productivity begins by giving your team the tools they need, not only to succeed but to continually refine workflows and expand your client base. When motivation isn’t the issue, the next most significant workplace obstacle in today’s business environment is technology.

Whether you’re running a small startup or a corporate enterprise, a workplace innovation platform deployed around your goals and operations is critical to setting your team up for success. With a customized FileMaker solution, your organization can become an industry leader by:

  • Turning goals into actionable plans
  • Optimizing a software platform around your operations
  • Transforming the way your team works at every level
  • Making data-driven business decisions

If that sounds like something your team could benefit from, here are just a few more ways a workplace innovation platform like FileMaker can help you achieve greater prosperity.

Streamlined Project Management

Staying agile in today’s ever-changing business environment means technology should never slow your organization down. By giving your team access to mission-critical data in one place, a workplace innovation platform simplifies the decision-making process. No longer will they have to mine for data or parse through potentially outdated spreadsheets. A FileMaker solution has the power to turn that data into powerful insights with robust report creation tools and dashboards. With a platform like FileMaker, your team can have access to information as it is updated in real time, so you can be confident they’re making optimal decisions.

Because a workplace innovation platform like FileMaker is built around your organizational objectives and workflows, project management becomes as intuitive as you can possibly imagine. A FileMaker solution can be developed and deployed to streamline every stage of project management, no matter what industry you’re in or what your project timelines look like. If your team has become bogged down by increasingly complex project phases, a workplace innovation platform is the first place to turn to refine those processes and help you serve more clients faster than you thought possible.

Centralized Resources

Whether working on accounting, replying to emails, or building reports, having to switch between multiple single-purpose ‘appliance’ applications slows any employee down, ultimately draining productivity. FileMaker can integrate all the programs your team needs in a central interface and incorporate practically any of the digital elements on which you depend. Your team can also connect with online tools like Microsoft Office, WordPress or Salesforce, making FileMaker the perfect all-in-one tool for all your technology platforms.

Room for Creativity and Growth

Have productivity levels become stagnant? That’s likely because your team doesn’t have the tools to turn inefficiencies into opportunities. If your organization has to adapt workflows to a limited software platform, you’re curbing productivity and limiting growth.

The right workplace innovation platform gives your organization room for growth while offering the flexibility to find innovative solutions to ever-changing problems. Instead of finding ways to fit your operations within the constraints of off-the-shelf software, a workplace innovation platform delivers the flexibility your team needs to solve problems creatively and continually hone your processes. A FileMaker solution streamlines communication, integrates real-time data with workflows, and facilitates strategic planning.

At the same time, workplace innovation solutions allow you to scale your technology resources quickly and efficiently. Off-the-shelf software can slow growth as you attempt to scale it around your growth goals. An innovation platform like FileMaker, on the other hand, easily scales with a growing user base so it’s perfectly aligned with your plans and your budget.

Reduced Paper Waste

One of the most significant benefits of adopting a workplace innovation system is it enables your organization to move closer to a paperless future. If your team needs to turn data into insight, one of the least efficient ways of accomplishing that goal is by rifling through stacks of paper to find what they need. Chances are, by the time that information is printed and shared, it’s already outdated anyway. With real-time reporting tools, your organization can be paperless. That not only leads to more agile decision-making but reduces paper waste and lowers overhead expenses. Plus, your organization will be helping the environment by reducing the amount of material waste you produce.

Mobile-Friendly Technology

With a workplace innovation platform, doing business on the go is easier than ever. Whether on the road, visiting a client’s facility, or out in the field, your team members can access the data they need to prioritize customer engagement while working as though they were in the office. FileMaker’s workplace innovation platform is compatible with all mobile devices. Whether your team prefers working from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, they can access and manage your FileMaker solution from anywhere with internet connectivity.

How Skeleton Key Can Help

Skeleton Key is the leading source for leveraging FileMaker’s workplace innovation possibilities. We’ve already helped hundreds of clients deploy a customized FileMaker solution for their operations and goals, and we’re ready to help your organization next. Whether your organization is looking to automate repetitive tasks or streamline project management, contact us today and we’ll explore how a FileMaker solution can take your team’s productivity to new heights.