ROI & TCO with FileMaker Pro – 3 Years Study
Today’s businesses are facing many financial challenges, especially when it comes to developing IT applications. New technologies have arrived on the scene that reduce those financial burdens, while speeding the application development process. This white paper examines the FileMaker Platform, which employs the Rapid Application Development process, and how it offers certain advantages over tools such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Salesforce.com that use more traditional application development methodologies.
The problems with the traditional application development process:
Businesses have identified application development projects as an area where significant cost savings can be realized, especially since cost overruns and delayed deliveries have become common problems. The cause of those problems can be attributed to miscalculating training needs, prototyping costs, and quality assurance costs, which are all related to the development of the application. Further impacting costs is the tendency of development projects to shift design goals or encounter new feature requests. Those problems are further exacerbated by the rigid specification and development cycle associated with traditional application development tools.
Problems encountered during application development negatively impact important business performance metrics, such as Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), both of which are used to gauge a project’s success. The solution to those problems lies with the ability to expedite the development cycle, reduce overhead, and quickly accommodate project modifications, which will enable developers to more efficiently create, modify, and deliver new applications.
Solving problems with Rapid Application Development (RAD) technologies:
Businesses today need agile IT solutions, which can react to market driven changes. Rapid Application Development (RAD) Tools, such as FileMaker Pro, have become the best way for businesses to incorporate agility into their application development projects. RAD tools deliver the ability to speed development, reducing training needs, accelerate prototyping, and enable rapid project changes. Those advantages combine to increase the ROI potential, while reducing overall TCO. What’s more, RAD tools help to lower ongoing operational costs by easing developmental changes throughout the life of the project.
The Hidden Costs of Traditional Development Tools
Over the years, the tools used for application development have become fragmented, meaning that developers usually have to purchase suites of products, such as Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Oracle Developer Suite 10g, which incorporate a multitude of tools, ranging from code editing tools to compilers to database connection brokers. In most cases, those suites are incomplete at best and require additional third party products, such as plug-ins, debuggers, database connectors, compilers, and a slew of other “added expense” items, which tends to be true with development products such as Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition. Even open source solutions, such as MySQL, do not escape the need for add-ons, in many cases, deploying MySQL requires the purchase of commercial tools with significant costs.
While increased product selection and multiple options may even result in new development opportunities, IT departments are usually saddled with additional training requirements, licensing costs,and integration chores. Those costs often increase exponentially and must be justified to prove the ROI of a project. But, those additional expenses and increasing costs are only a small part of the problem.
The development tools selected for a project also significantly impact the development process. The traditional application development method, often referred to as stagewise or waterfall models, is based upon a structured step-by-step approach for developing applications. While sound in theory, the stagewise or waterfall approach leads to a rigid sequence of steps, which is anything but strategic. Each procedural step consumes time and resources by forcing application developers to “sign-off” after completion. That results in procedures that freeze development until each specification is coded, tested, and implemented, before proceeding to the next step. In most cases, there is a long delay before applications are completed and the development process can take so long that the fundamental needs of the business could change before the new application is implemented. While this is appropriate for certain transactional or financial systems there might be a more appropriate approach for departmental solutions.
Simply put, traditional tools and methodologies will significantly increase realized TCO and will reduce demonstrable ROI. It all comes down to the inefficiencies of the tools, the methods and the overall management of the process negatively impacting the bottom line.
Rapid Application Development Paves a Better Path to Enhancing TCO
and Delivering ROI
RAD brings new tools and processes that change the fundamentals of building applications. RAD tools, such as FileMaker Pro, replace the tedious hand-design and coding processes with automated design and coding. That automation delivers a multitude of benefits ranging from expediting application development to improving the agility of change management. Automation speeds both development and delivery by eliminating waterfall methodologies that isolate developers from subject matter experts. FileMaker Pro naturally embraces a spiral approach that emphasizes iteration and involves end users
during development to ensure success at delivery. Spiral development allows a project to be broken up into smaller pieces, which can be developed concurrently and prototyped in manageable pieces. Each part of the solution can then be tested independently and then wrapped together to complete the project. The spiral development methodology goes hand in hand with RAD to reduce the time needed to develop applications, while increasing flexibility.
The FileMaker Platform
The FileMaker Platform is a suite of tools used to easily build flexible database solutions for rapid deployment on Windows and Mac, and to extend them to the web. The product line consists of
FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced, FileMaker Server, and FileMaker Server Advanced. FileMaker Pro is an encapsulated development and deployment platform – no additional tools are needed to build and deploy applications. However many developers opt to use FileMaker Pro Advanced in order to take advantage of the added customization and development tools included in the software. If a FileMaker application needs to be securely shared, FileMaker Server is added to manage the databases. Or FileMaker Server Advanced can be used to host even larger groups of databases, provide ODBC/JDBC connectivity and share databases over the web with more users than FileMaker Pro alone.
The FileMaker Platform is ideal for:
- Solutions that are currently based on spreadsheets or paper
- Retrieving and exchanging data with enterprise systems
- Data tracking, report generation, and analysis
- Workflow solutions for the department or workgroup
The FileMaker Platform is designed to help the non-programmer (subject matter expert) become more productive in collecting, processing, and analyzing information. The award-winning FileMaker Pro provides the tools to build a customized user interface with a relational database and business logic in a single unified Windows and Mac application. Incorporating these three elements into one product has proven to be very effective and places a lighter cognitive load on the knowledge worker or other users.