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How Does FileMaker Solve the Biggest Problems for Creative Teams?

Internal creative teams face diverse challenges for project, product and asset management. The same app often needs to serve as a project tracker, as well as a database for thousands of proprietary products and their associated rich media files. Because creative teams are well aware of how that app should function, the shortcomings of off-the-shelf databases and cloud solutions are all too apparent.

This is why larger companies (and agencies) often turn to their IT teams to build a custom app for them, as most teams are at least aware of the solutions landscape, and many have their own developers to support teams internally.

However, working on (and supporting) the evolution of a custom app (as opposed to an off-the-shelf software product) is a very different animal. IT managers need to stay more focused on implementation and management than on internal custom app development. IT specialists may not have the time or the flexibility, let alone the skill, to satisfy the complex and tailored needs of a marketing and digital creative team.

Developing an app requires flexibility, agility, and customization. Claris FileMaker remains one of the most well-known custom app building platforms on the market. It addresses the needs of creative groups that require a secure, robust, and most importantly, responsive database.

What Do Creative Teams Need from an Asset Management Database?

Digital marketing and communication teams work with a wide range of partners and audiences both outside and within the company. Internally, that same team often serves crucial income-generating sales, product, and e-commerce teams…all of which are demanding quality assets on an ongoing basis.

During any given day, internal communications and marketing teams interact with:

  • Multiple audiences (B2B and B2C)
  • E-commerce/product databases
  • Creative agencies
  • Production companies
  • Printing companies/fulfillment houses
  • Internal product and sales teams

Keep in mind (though we hardly need to remind internal marcom folks) that internal departments do not necessarily share the same location. Designers and creative directors also interface frequently with outside agencies, with those agencies both receiving and generating massive image and video files. Retail partners often have final approval over floor displays and graphics.

The cloud isn’t always the best solution for transferring and sharing resource-demanding files like high-res images and videos. You have no way of controlling the bandwidth speeds of offsite third parties, and those large files can be time-consuming to download.

As the team delivers different revisions of images and video, keeping them in one location undercuts the headaches of verifying which versions have been approved. A unified, searchable repository custom-built specifically for your workflow refines the entire resource management process.

creative team maximizing productivity

Why FileMaker?

Designers and creative directors will often tell us that they need something more robust than a searchable database. They also need a project management tool to ensure that everyone involved in the process turns in deliverables on time.

Creative teams often try to solve the problem of product definition and asset management with spreadsheets. Shared sheets do pose as a temporary solution. In the long term, however, reliance on spreadsheets leads to lost data, confusion, time-consuming manual updates, and reduced productivity.

FileMaker is a custom app building platform with endless integration opportunities for your individual data environment. We recommend FileMaker for creative teams for a few key reasons:

  1. Ties into different project management tools
  2. Easy to use
  3. Keeps records easily identifiable and organized
  4. Fast and easy to customize for your internal processes
  5. Manages thousands of individual pieces of creative (images, photos, etc.)
  6. Creates a paper trail of the workflow of your internal creative team
  7. Tracks the process that gets creative to deliverable status
  8. Offers features like project request forms

Because it easily syncs and follows project management flows, it enables everyone to follow the same schedule. As a tool, it can be used within individual groups or company-wide, giving you an inherently future-proof data solution.

Why Localized FileMaker Hardware Instead of a Cloud Solution?

Storing items locally may sound counterintuitive in the age of the cloud. Even as memory gets increasingly cheaper, the cost of cloud storage can be unpredictable when you’re storing resource hogs like full-res graphics and photos.

There’s also an IP issue to consider with local storage: You own both the app and the data. You manage every single creative asset in a database that sits on hardware to which you control access.

With your own app, you’ve got utterly proprietary, private, and localized assets. As a department, you also control the fate of those assets. If, in the future, your IT management changes your cloud infrastructure, this saves you the headache of migrating those massive files from several different cloud-based directories to yet another cloud structure.

There’s also the issue of security. Creative images often feature products that haven’t yet been released, or are managed by strict NDAs. A local server gives project managers decisive control over embargoed materials. The cloud offers plenty of security, but a localized resource may provide even more oversight for pieces of creative that have a restricted “for your eyes only” audience.

Why Work with a Third Party Instead of Going it On Your Own?

Expertise is always going to cut down on development time and cost. A professional FileMaker developer like Skeleton Key evolves into an available partner utterly familiar with your business environment and your departmental needs.

A creative team can also have additional control when working directly with a development firm. As the primary user group for the app, your team knows what it needs, and it might be inefficient to try to communicate those needs through an internal IT manager. In other words: When you communicate your needs directly to a firm whose main mission is to deliver a custom app, nothing gets lost in translation.

Lastly, your needs will change. Tools—all tools—will depreciate over time. Maybe a UX will need a refresh. In the tech world, a year or two could represent a decade of evolution. Having a partner in place who already understands your departmental needs and culture makes those refreshes more cost-effective, faster, and well-informed. A reputable developer will help you take expedient advantage of new tools that come into the market over time.

work with a FileMaker Expert

Working with an expert provides:

  • Additional flexibility and resource/cost management
  • Improved collaboration across teams
  • Tried-and-tested efficient development process
  • Actions and customization based on your individual use cases

Creative Teams Drive Technical Innovation

Designers and digital marketing professionals need IT solutions that are sophisticated but simple to use. As a highly customizable solution, FileMaker is a well-resourced platform that functions as data repository, searchable library, and project management tool for your team, no matter your audience or your campaign.

We have extensive experience in customizing FileMaker apps for a wide range of creative leaders in companies that share a wholesale and retail audience. Use the contact form below if you want to find out more!

Forrester-research

Are Spreadsheets Slowing Your Business Down?

In today’s data-driven business environment, spreadsheets have become a foundational component of any data management platform. Organizations that don’t use spreadsheets for some aspect of their daily operations are few and far between. That’s because spreadsheets offer an intuitive tool for collecting, managing, sharing, and calculating data across devices. 

At the same time, however, spreadsheets are limited in the scope of their use. When it comes to managing big data, gaining deeper insights with data-driven analytics, and real-time data updates, spreadsheets can even start slowing your business down. What do you do when spreadsheets begin interfering with productivity and efficiency? Deploying a custom data solution should be at the top of your list.

Why a Custom Data Solution?

If your organization prioritizes business intelligence, you need more than spreadsheets to accomplish your business goals. That’s where a custom data solution can help. But does the word custom also make you think of words like expensive and lengthy? With Skeleton Key, it no longer has to. If you’re ready to make the upgrade from simple spreadsheets to a custom data solution for your business, our experts will help you make the transition as seamless and efficient as possible.

The conventional custom data software development process may take weeks, months, or even a year or more. Skeleton Key has streamlined those timelines to deliver a robust data management solution in a matter of days or weeks, so obtaining the software you need never slows your team down.

Simplify Data Flexibility

To stay competitive, your organization continually needs to find new ways to leverage data insights and drive innovation. If there’s one thing that spreadsheets are not, it’s flexible. Although you don’t need flexibility for simple data entry, what about when you want to automate data entry? Things get a little trickier, and you need a custom software platform that allows you to adapt your business processes quickly. A custom data solution from Skeleton Key can help you accomplish just that.

Prioritize Data Transparency

Spreadsheets can make it difficult to prioritize data transparency. Tracking who has access to which data can quickly become a challenge and even a security risk. That’s because spreadsheet software is not designed with user access controls in mind. Skeleton Key works with you to achieve the ideal balance between transparency, usability, and security. That way, user access controls never get in the way of your team’s productivity goals but still ensure data is only available to users who actually need it.

Partner With Skeleton Key Today

If you thought a custom data solution was out of reach for your organization, Skeleton Key is here to show you there’s another option: the FileMaker platform. We specialize in working with organizations across any industry to streamline business processes, simplify data management, and drive innovation. Get in touch with our experts today to start exploring the possibilities for your organization’s future.

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7 Strategies for Increasing Workplace Productivity

How much more work could your team be getting done? At Skeleton Key, we spend a lot of time thinking about this question and helping businesses formulate an answer. We’re workplace innovation specialists with the tools to develop a customized software solution that improves employee productivity. Ultimately, we focus on empowering your team so they can get back to doing the work they most enjoy.

The software tools your team uses are a critical part of maximizing workplace productivity, but that’s not the only thing you need to consider when optimizing your work environment. In this post, we’ll explore some of the other factors you need to consider to take productivity up a notch.

1. Minimize Workplace Distractions

Ask one of your employees where they prefer to go when they need to focus and get a lot of work done. Chances are that place isn’t their desk. From coworkers passing by for a quick conversation to impromptu meetings, we’re constantly bombarded by distraction in the workplace. One of the keys to maximizing efficiency is minimizing those distractions. Implementing mobile device-use policies, social media filters, consolidating network applications, and encouraging employees to take regular breaks are an excellent place to start.

2. Delegate Tasks

No single person can do it all. Delegating tasks to the team members best equipped to handle them helps your organization get more done while improving customer satisfaction. Project management and reporting software make it easy to decide which tasks ought to be delegated to which team members.

3. Optimize Workplace Conditions

When employees get too hot or cold, it becomes difficult for them to focus and stay on task. On top of that, uncomfortable employees end up wasting time by migrating to more comfortable areas of your building, layering clothes, or avoiding work altogether. Ensuring that your HVAC system is equipped to maintain a workplace temperature between 68 and 70 degrees can help your team stay focused year-round.

4. Establish Realistic Goals

Employees’ jobs become substantially simpler when they have clear workplace expectations and attainable goals to strive for. These goals help unify your team around a common purpose while giving them a concrete reason for showing up to work each morning. At the same time, when they have some downtime, clear goal setting allows them to make the most of that time while simultaneously moving your organization forward.

5. Give Your Team the Right Tools

If your team’s workflows have become more about the tools than the work itself, it’s time to reconsider your workplace productivity strategies. Without the right tools and equipment in place, employees are forced to work against a system that should be working for them. Without a software solution that conforms to the way they work, they’re forced to conform their workflows to the restrictions of that software. These restrictions ultimately breed inefficiency and have a negative impact on productivity. Fortunately, a workplace innovation platform can help.

6. Practice Positive Reinforcement

Instead of reprimanding employees for what they didn’t get done that week, start rewarding them for what they did get done. Did they hit all of their milestones for the week? Let them leave a couple of hours early on Friday. You’ll find that when you shape productivity goals around positive encouragement, your team will actually get more done in less time instead of just doing the bare minimum.

7. Prioritize Employee Satisfaction

Happy employees are productive employees. This mantra sounds simple enough, but what are you doing to actively engage employees and ensure their job satisfaction? Show them that they’re appreciated by practicing positive reinforcement and highlighting their successes instead of getting hung up on challenges. With the right reporting software tools, tracking and rewarding employees for hitting specific milestones is easy, so you can be confident they’re getting as much out of work as they’re putting into it.

The Workplace Productivity Experts at Skeleton Key

Are you looking for ways to elevate productivity at your workplace? Skeleton Key can help. We’ve already worked with organizations in every industry to streamline workflows and prioritize productivity with a customized software solution built around the way they work. We’re ready to help you next. Explore the possibilities with a deeper understanding of our development process or contact our team today to take the first step.

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What You Need to Know About Data Effectiveness

In terms of your organization’s workflows, there are two ways to think about data. First, how can you use business data more efficiently, and second, how can you use data more effectively? That means that just because you’re using data more efficiently, you aren’t necessarily using that data more effectively—and vice versa. We spend a lot of time talking about data efficiency, but in this post, we’re going to take a step back to focus on data effectiveness.

What Is Data Effectiveness?

When you’re looking for ways to use data more efficiently, the question ultimately becomes: How can you use your data system to help your team get more done in less time? Using data more effectively, on the other hand, comes down to pinpointing which processes and workflows could benefit from more data, automation, or even fewer data resources.

Ultimately, the implications of data effectiveness offer a striking reminder that data for the sake of data is not always a good thing. Some problems can’t be solved with more data, even when it’s used more efficiently, and that’s where data effectiveness comes into play.

The Importance of Data Effectiveness

When you begin factoring data effectiveness into the decision-making formula, you can start identifying which data is worth collecting and streamlining in the first place. With this in mind, you need to first take a look at the systems your organization uses to collect, manage, and store data.

Let’s say an organization is still relying on an expanding framework of spreadsheets to handle business data. While spreadsheets are an excellent way for businesses to hit the ground running—in this sense, they can be great for prioritizing data efficiency—they can also present specific challenges as an organization grows.

For example, as a business attempts to scale data management on spreadsheets, they can experience performance issues when too much data is collected on one document. Similarly, when users don’t all have access to the same spreadsheets, data can be misrepresented, mistakes can be made, and sharing data becomes difficult. When this happens, the merits of the data efficiency offered by spreadsheets are quickly outweighed by the setbacks of data ineffectiveness: Your team doesn’t always have access to data when they need it, and network administrators can’t control user access controls.

How Relational Data Management Can Help

If your organization is looking for ways to prioritize data effectiveness, implementing a relational data management platform offers an ideal place to start. That’s because a relational database allows you to take complex tables of data and access or reassemble them in a variety of ways without having to reorganize the tables themselves.

That means you can not only store and manage complex data with a relational database; your team can also gain deeper insights into that data by analyzing the context out of which it arises while simultaneously pairing it with other data. In short, you’re able to use complex data to make connections in a way that you can’t with spreadsheets alone.

Start Prioritizing Data Effectiveness With Skeleton Key

Has your organization only pursued efficiency for the sake of efficiency up until now? The experts at Skeleton Key can help. We specialize in developing custom business software that opens up new possibilities for achieving new levels of data efficiency and effectiveness across your organization. Learn more about our workplace productivity solutions or contact our team today to start exploring your options.

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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.

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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.

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FileMaker Is Evolving to Become Claris

You may have already heard that FileMaker, Inc. announced the company is becoming Claris International Inc. If you currently use a FileMaker solution, you’re wondering how this rebranding will impact your day-to-day operations. Likewise, if you’ve been considering a FileMaker solution, you’re probably curious as to how this change may affect your decision moving forward.

In this post, we’ll focus on answering these questions, so you have a clear picture of what the future has in store.

There’s a Lot Behind a Name

On the surface, FileMaker becoming Claris may appear to be little more than a simple rebranding strategy. However, as you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover that the change has more to do with the company’s evolving vision for the future than PR. As a platform that’s now utilized by more than 50,000 companies and one million end users, the Workplace Innovation Platform has reached a pivotal point in its development.

Leadership at FileMaker felt that the words file and maker were simply too specific to align with the evolving needs of their customers. As Ann Monroe explains, the company decided to evolve as Claris for three key reasons:

Legacy
In 1986, Claris began as a subsidiary of Apple. In 1998, the company was renamed FileMaker, Inc. to focus on its flagship product. The move to rebrand as Claris is not only a nod to the company’s history; it’s also a move to take a more holistic approach to Workplace Innovation in the future.

A Deeper Meaning
The word Claris is derived from the Latin word Clarus, meaning clear, bright, and shining. The company believes that the word has worldwide relevance to customers in every nation as their global footprint continues to expand. At the same time, this deeper meaning more closely represents what the company’s technology can offer companies today and tomorrow.

Multi-Service Offerings
Moving forward, Claris hopes to provide multi-service Workplace Innovation offerings that unify a host of services under a single, robust platform.

What Happens to FileMaker?

Even with this evolution, FileMaker will continue to live on as one of Claris’ service unique offerings. But what about the other service offerings? While a more precise answer to this question will unfold in the coming month, we do know that Claris’ service offerings will focus on “a combination of custom apps and third-party services” that allow customers to “solve problems faster and build applications that have no limits on their capabilities.” (Source)

Claris has acquired Stamplay, a company that specializes in creating sophisticated enterprise platforms with connectors for 150 cloud services. No doubt, then, that Claris’ evolving offerings will be geared towards helping your organization achieve your true potential by leveraging the power of cloud environments, and FileMaker can still be a vital piece of the puzzle.

Srini Gurrapu expresses the future of the Claris Platform is built upon four pillars:

  1. Cloud-First: New technology will be built in the cloud with continuing support for hybrid on-premise customers.
  2. Native Web and Mobile experience: Native web and mobile experience will offer consistent experiences on every platform.
  3. API integration and Orchestration: Workflow integrations will be orchestrated with cloud and on-premise services.
  4. Emerging Technologies: All services will be enhanced with Artificial Intelligence and advanced technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

Goals for the Future

Since the decision to become Claris was made with the future in mind, leadership has expressed specific goals for the next several years. These goals include:

Growing the Developer Community

Leaders at Claris hope to grow the community from 50,000 to 150,000 developer over the next few years.

Empowering Problem Solvers

The FileMaker Platform has always excelled at empowering the individuals closest to a specific problem. That’s why the company hopes to expand the developer community in sectors like healthcare, construction, municipal government, and K-12 education. By focusing on these industries, organizations will be able to better pinpoint the root of their problems and use technology to address them.

Leading the FileMaker Developer Community

At Skeleton Key, our experts are proud to be at the forefront of the FileMaker—and now the Claris—development community. If you have any more questions about how these changes may impact your existing FileMaker solution, don’t hesitate to contact our team, and we’ll provide answers right away.

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.

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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.