A Database for this Business

Even a little business has many categories of records and tasks.  We have wanted and imagined a database to manage orders, inventory, jobs, individual furniture items, on-time delivery, purchases … etc.  I have learned enough of Filemaker Pro to develop a system that has replaced seventeen clipboards and seven ring binders, shortened the hours of office work, and improved service to our clientele.  The “I have learned … [a program]” statement represents the crossing of a series of high hurdles — time and attitude being the highest.

Much remains to be done.  The more we use it, the more benefits, uses, and relationships we see.  The database is a work in progress, but it has taken us beyond what we could do with paper, heads, and hands already.

This is our “operations window” showing our work order control layout.  The tabs across the top link to other layouts and layers of layouts on the subject titles.  On this work order control layout, fields turn red on the dates when action is required.

Operations Control database screen

When we schedule a body of work, we create a Job.  This is a typical “Job Record.”  The scheduling of a job creates individual item records that are tracked through the shop, assigned to a customer, and shipped on time.  Every individual item has a unique ID number stamped on its bottom and is linked to the customer record.

Job Record database screen

The furniture inventory tab shows a subset of the individual item records — that is, those with no work order number, being those that are for sale.  Clicking on the “101-wal” sub-header button, shows the walnut rockers that are next in line.  We quote and commit to a “shipping date” by adding to the “ready to assemble” date.

Furniture Inventory database screen

Buying stuff and being sure it comes can take a lot of time — but less time, fewer errors here now.  This is a vendor record showing what we have purchased from this vendor.  A purchase order is easy to create in an overlaying form.  A click of a button creates a PDF file of the PO and attaches it to an email draft addressed to the vendor.

Vendor database screen

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