FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Absolutely. We're based in the South West but we can (and have) developed software for businesses outside the UK. The only issues we've ever encountered when working for a more distant client are the language and time differences but neither of those issues have presented an unworkable situation. From our experience, who you're working with is far more important than where they come from or what time they get to work.
WHY USE CLARIS FILEMAKER?
First off, over a million people, in over 50,000 companies across the world use Claris FileMaker every day. That’s an awful lot of software running business critical processes. It’s also a huge network of data being shared between businesses and their clients and customers. As we near the age of the internet of things, Claris FileMaker could play an increasingly vital role in how you run your business and how you manage your clients.
SO CLARIS FILEMAKER’S GREAT BUT WHY USE FLARE SOFTWARE?
Because we're great too :) At Flare, we have a combined experience of over 30 years working with Claris FileMaker across a variety of business markets. Healthcare, stock control, security, marketing, online sales, media - you name it, we’ve been there and we could be there for you too. So why not contact us and we could help you realise your dream of making your working life more productive, more profitable and just that little bit easier.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS TO WORKING WITH FLARE?
You can complete a contact form or phone us for a quick chat. We'll ask you for an overview of your business and what you require from a bespoke software solution and we'll take it from there. If you have an NDA then we'll sign that and go over any terms / conditions you might have (we'll also review our T&Cs with you at this point). There's no commitment at this stage and in fact, we only ever charge for work that we have completed and you're free to cancel our work at any time should you need to.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We arrange a start time for the work and when that date arrives, we get to work. We aim to complete discrete sections of the project before granting you access to them so that you can see how the project is developing and can test and fine-tune the software. Keeping you very much in the picture as we develop the database is key to reducing any potential overspend and keeping the project in line with your requirements.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FROM ME TO START?
As clear a picture as you can create of how your business operates and what you require from an Flare software solution. This could take the form of a few paragraphs of text, example reports, realistic spreadsheet data and so on. If you don't know where to start, then we'll guide you through the process in order to get a good idea of where you want to take the project.
HOW DO YOU CHARGE?
We charge monthly and only for the work we do - we request that all bills are paid within 30 days of our issuing an invoice and you can cancel work at any point so you're not tied down to a long term contract. We will work hard at keeping you informed of the current costs and give you an idea of how long each feature will take to complete. If you require terms which differ from these, we're happy to discuss them with you. If you're ever unable to pay a bill then we would just ask that we're notified of the problem as soon as possible and also when it should be resolved (we're usually very understanding of the cashflow issues small businesses can face) but we also reserve the right to cease work until any outstanding invoices are paid.
YOU TALK ABOUT DATABASES? IS THAT REALLY SOFTWARE?
Yes. Totally. A database is a collection of information which can be displayed, analysed, referenced and reported on in all manner of ways - all of which can be unique to your own specific needs. You want to maintain lists of customers and their orders and then generate financial reports based upon that data? Yes, Claris FileMaker will do that. You want a stock control system with up to the second accuracy? Yes, that’ll be a database with Claris FileMaker. You need to view your database remotely via a web browser or on an iPhone or an iPad? Yes, yes and yes. The fact is that Claris FileMaker is many things to many people.
WHY NOT USE AN OFF-THE-SHELF SOFTWARE SOLUTION?
Sure, you can go that way. There are plenty of off-the-shelf software solutions out there which work perfectly well for the average company. The problem is, in over 20 years of software and database development, we have never seen an ‘average’ company. More to the point, we've never been asked to create software which, without alteration and refinement, could be used by another business. It’s just a fact of life that businesses, even those which are in the same market, don't utilise exactly the same day to day processes. Each business has its own way of operating, its own principle goals and it’s because of all of these differences than no one should expect that an off-the-shelf product will be ideally suited to their business. Ultimately, off-the-shelf solutions aren't solutions at all - they're just a temporary answer and usually a poor one at that.
SO HOW FLEXIBLE IS YOUR SOFTWARE? CAN I CHANGE IT WHEN I WANT?
Firstly, our software is designed with flexibility in mind. You can run Claris FileMaker on Apple Macs and Microsoft Windows PCs and on iPads and iPhones. In fact, with Claris Connect, you can run it in a web browser - easily. So you get cross platform / cross device functionality with AES 256-bit encryption across any network and all at expected internet / network speeds. And yes, you can even integrate Claris FileMaker with online POS systems and accountancy applications and with an iPad / iPhone running Claris FileMaker, you can read Barcodes and QR codes, capture signatures, store images and video all in your very own database. Claris FileMaker is secure, it’s flexible and it can be written to perform almost any computer function you can imagine. So is it flexible? Yes - very.
Secondly, we develop software with the intention of allowing it to be altered, upgraded and changed. This level of flexibility is part of why Claris FileMaker is perfectly suited to small and medium businesses and it's also built into the way we write the code.
HOW SMALL WILL YOU GO?
We're happy to work with sole traders and we're happy to make very minor tweaks to an existing system. So yes, we can go about as small as it gets.
HOW LARGE WILL YOU GO?
We've created software solutions for multi-million pound businesses that employ well over 100 staff. Claris FileMaker is well equipped for that sort of setting - much larger and there are probably more suitable alternatives out there. We know where Claris FileMaker and our talents are best employed and we'll let you know if your project goals look to breach these limits.
WHAT HARDWARE DO WE NEED? DO WE HAVE TO HAVE A SERVER?
That really depends. You can run Claris FileMaker on a server in the cloud using server hosting company and paying a monthly contract but you can also run Claris FileMaker from a single desktop or notebook computer.
CAN YOU TRANSFER MY CURRENT EXCEL SPREADSHEETS INTO A DATABASE?
Usually - we can create import systems to capture your Excel data and then merge it with the database. We can export your data in much the same way as well.
HOW ABOUT TRAINING? DO I GET A MANUAL?
We will always show you how to use the software and because we develop alongside you and to your requirements, the learning curve is usually very shallow. It's rare that a manual is required but we can produce one should you require it.
I NEED TO ACCESS MY DATA FROM ANYWHERE. IS THAT POSSIBLE?
Absolutely - at least anywhere you can get some form of network / internet access. If you have a mobile solution (ie software where you connect to a server via an iPhone) and might spend time in areas without a phone signal then we can create a software solution that syncs a mobile device with a server when you're back in a strong signal area. Syncing isn't ideal as the data between the two devices (ie the mobile device and the server) spends some time being out of sync however, it's a perfect solution for businesses that require mobility in areas without internet access.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Typically projects last from a few weeks to a few months, but the old adage "how long is a piece of string" comes to mind! We have been asked on more than one occasion how much a database will cost without any information on what is expected of it or how it should work. An example of how this sort of question can't be so easily answered could be asking a builder how much it would cost to build a house without saying how large, where and so on. The best thing to do is to provide us with as much information as possible and we'll take it from there.
I'M WORRIED ABOUT A PROJECT OVERRUNNING - DOES THAT HAPPEN MUCH?
It can happen but it can be avoided and at least reduced by being very clear in what you're after and making no assumptions when telling us what your plans are for the project. The greater the clarity of the information you provide, the more accurate our estimates will be.
ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MOBILE SOFTWARE AND DESKTOP SOFTWARE?
The software we create is usually written as a single file and that remains the same across all devices. As you can imagine; desktops, notebooks, iPhone and iPads each have very different screens and at the very least, we may need to design layouts specific to each type of device in order to best utilise its capabilities.
CAN I GIVE PEOPLE IN MY ORGANISATION DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ACCESS?
Absolutely. We can create what we refer to as "access privilege groups" and allow each group a different level of access. This means that you can control what data each group / user gets to be able to view, edit or delete. The level of control we have here is quite considerable so setting access rights is very rarely a problem for us.
DO I OWN THE SOFTWARE?
You own any software which you have paid for and can use it as required however, we also reserve the rights to the software. We stipulate this because any software we write will almost certainly contain our code libraries which we use again and again in the database software solutions we create. There are quite a few software developers that do not give you the rights to the software but we disagree with that approach - as long as you've paid for it, it's yours.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A QUOTE AND AND ESTIMATE?
We don't create Quotes for our clients (ie a set price for a job) simply because they're not realistic. If the client doesn't provide a complete brief then any assumptions made on our part or that of the client can result in the final software solution not performing in a way that the client envisioned. This means that with quotes need to be heavily padded to take into account all of these assumptions and thus can result in over charging - something that no one is happy about. Instead, we use an estimate range for how long we believe a project will take based upon the information provided. The more accurate the client is in describing what they're after and how their business operates, the more accurate our estimate range will be.
DO YOU OFFER REMOTE SUPPORT?
Yes we certainly do. We use the TeamViewer app along with Zoom and other remote access tools in order to connect to your Microsoft Windows or Mac OS computer. We can diagnose and resolve a great many different faults in this way.