In-house FileMaker developers are in a precarious situation. Most of you were not hired to do FileMaker development. You were in sales or doing data entry and someone asked if you could ‘figure this FileMaker thing out.’ You’ve taken on the challenge, enjoyed it, and started delivering valuable results to your organization. It’s thrilling to do something new and above the call of duty. Eventually, as you transition to more development and less of your old job, you’re left with an identity crisis. You work each day to develop or improve the solutions your employer uses. Everyone sees you as ‘the FileMaker Expert’ and they can’t imagine why you’d want or need help with FileMaker. However, you’ve received little to no formal training on FileMaker, or the softer skills your new role requires (e.g. gathering requirements, planning features, documentation). We’ve been able to speak candidly with a few in-house developers and asked what stops them from getting help from an outside resource to overcome their lack of formal training and improve their skills. Here are the most common reasons: 1. ‘My boss won’t pay for that.’ This is the knee jerk response most people have. It’s unfortunate if you never get past it. You may be right but you’ll never know for sure unless you ask. More importantly, you’ll never know for sure unless you utilize the outside resources for all they’re worth and let them ask. That’s right, there are professional FileMaker development shops that would be happy to speak with you and your boss to discuss the costs and benefits of working with them. Let these folks do their job. You’ll quickly know if they’re going about it right because you’ll feel comfortable setting up a meeting to introduce them to your boss. Before you conclude that your ‘boss won’t pay for that’ ask yourself these questions?
- Have you asked?
- Has anyone asked?
- Have you given him/her a reason to pay for it?
- Do they understand that spending a little time honing your skills will make you a more valuable employee?
- Do other employees go to professional training?
- How much are they saving by having you as an in-house developer to begin with?
2. ‘Paying for outside assistance makes it seem like I don’t know how to do my job. I can’t afford for people to think that. I really enjoy feeding my children and making the house payment on time.’ Wow… Now we’ve struck a nerve. I believe this is the crux of the matter. Feeling threatened at this level can be paralyzing. You’re stuck seeking the free advice on forums, etc. but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also likely that you’re struggling with your identity as an employee. Am I a ‘developer’ now? Do other people see me as the FileMaker developer or in the role I was originally hired for? It’s nearly impossible to take on a consultative role that involves challenging the people around you to think differently while feeling this way. Before you draw this conclusion, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your company using an accounting firm?
- Does your employer outsource legal questions to an attorney?
- Does your sales team have ongoing training / coaching?
- Would you get more development done if you could call a FileMaker developer with encyclopedic knowledge of the FileMaker platform to ask a few quick questions?
Most likely, other parts of your organization have an outside resource they turn to in sticky situations. It’s not always easy to start a relationship with these outside resources. You’ve got to explain how it’s going to benefit the organization and ask for the resources. More importantly, you must approach ‘the-powers-that-be’ in a way that enhances your professionalism within the organization. Done well, the worst thing they’ll tell you is ‘no’, which won’t hurt too badly, and in the process you’ll learn more about the FileMaker platform and the developers available to help you in the future. Note: If shameless self-promotion bothers you, please divert your eyes momentarily. Have you noticed Skeleton Key’s FileMaker Coaching services? They are a great fit for in-house developers who need an outside resource from time to time. Our five (5) certified developers have 18 – 25 years of experience with FileMaker, each, and more importantly our goal in coaching is to make you look good. Get in touch and we’ll figure out which FileMaker Coaching option is the best fit for your circumstances. *** Jason Thomas manages Business Development at Skeleton Key. About Skeleton Key Skeleton Key is an accomplished team of technology consultants who solve business problems. We specialize in the rapid development of custom applications, integrating Macs and PCs in the professional workplace, and providing personalized training. Despite our end-to-end technical skills, we are consultant first and technologist second. We know that you don’t just need technology. You need to know that the technology you choose to deploy will provide the results you desire. Skeleton Key is a Platinum Level FileMaker Business Alliance company, an Authorized FileMaker Trainer, a member of the Apple Consultants Network and a Microsoft Registered Partner.