Customizing Studio Manager 9
You get the flexibility you need
Studio Manager is open for you to customize as you like
We trust you and respect your business knowledge. Being end-user-oriented software, FileMaker Pro was meant to be continually tweaked and extended. It is easy to change. It doesn't make sense to us to make FileMaker-based software that can't be tailored to your specific circumstances and preferences. If you need to, you can even fiddle with the guts.
We have tons of experience working with creative professionals. We have been specializing in serving this industry for about 20 years now. But, we still don't presume to know
what's best for you. So we designed Studio Manager from the ground up to be open, clean, organized, logical and consistent. That way, anyone with a good understanding of FileMaker Pro and a little bit of help can crack open the hood and tinker to their heart's content.
We Offer Discounted Blocks of Support Hours
Just in case, you aren't the DIY type and don't already have a favorite FileMaker maven handy, we want you to know we are available to help with customization if you need us. We wrote up a blog post recently on our discounted support packages. Briefly, Janet bills at $180/hour on an ad hoc basis. Scout bills out at $90/hour and Sally at $60/hour. If you buy a block of hours, you pay less. The chart below is denominated in Janet's hours but you can substitute 2 hours of Scout or 3 hours of Sally for 1 of Janet. See our blog post for more information.
Studio Manager is designed to be customized
We have specialized in creating database systems in FileMaker since it was in its infancy. As FileMaker grew up and became FileMaker Pro, we also matured and honed our skill as developers and interface designers. For a long time, all we did was design custom systems. After working with dozens of graphic design firms, patterns began to emerge. We realized that we could build a template-based vertical market application that would meet the needs of many customers with similar requirements. The advantage would be that a customizable product would be much more affordable than a system built from scratch.
We specifically thought about your needs to tailor the product to your own requirements when we built Studio Manager. We observed that no two firms are alike. So from the get go we decided that Studio Manager users ought to have the ability to alter the program as needed to fit their unique requirements. We felt that this was especially important for creative professionals who are discriminating enough to want everything in their office to look good, including their invoices and the interface of their management software.
To that end, we avoid graphical and programming gimmicks that are going to make it hard for you to add to or change Studio Manager. When you go into one of our layouts, for example, you'll find it easy to modify. Field names are clear. Scripts are grouped logically. Tables and relationships are straightforward.
Black box vs. customizable
There is a term in the computer industry called "black box." What it means is that the user doesn't get access to any aspect of the program design. That way, the theory goes, the user can't mess it up. Most serious vertical market software is built as a black box. Some preference and reporting options may be provided, but you (the software owner) are locked out of the guts of the system. We don't do that. As a matter of fact, if you change anything inside of Studio Manager and ever have a problem or want advice, we support you enthusiastically. The more you get involved, the better.
Human augmentation, not just automation
We believe that the computer should be at your beck and call. Not the other way around. The computer does not know best (translation: the programmer does not know best). The owner, the manager and the worker knows best. The Macintosh is a tool like that. The Macintosh broke ranks with the hard core, menu-driven systems that came before it. The systems where you were apt to get trapped in a hierarchical maze of modal dialogs.
As a Studio Manager user, you will not live inside a modal environment that slaps you when you make a mistake. It will instead be a helpful environment where you have the power to do what you need to do. It will be familiar and functional. You will be able to stretch it and mold it as you wish and adjust it as your environment and needs change over time. This is your mission-critical infrastructure. It needs to fit like a glove.
it yourself - the little stuff and the cosmetics
You can get up and running with Studio Manager without assistance from us by simply following the step-by-step instructions in the user manual. It's just a matter of setting preferences, deciding on your billing codes, hourly rates and the like. Also, we expect you to modify the layout of the printed invoice and estimate so that they fit well on your letterhead. Logos can be added, margins adjusted, fonts changed. Everything can be moved around to suit your needs. We are available by email or phone to advise you on anything you have questions about.
Getting your data into Studio Manager
You will probably have data on your prospects, clients, vendors and jobs already stored in computer-readable form. Most any of these things can be imported. FileMaker can import a large number of standard data formats. If you have been keeping track of something that Studio Manager does not track, you can just add new fields to hold the information that you think is important. If you have questions about a particular program whose data you would like to import, feel free to ask us what would be involved to get that data into Studio Manager.
Doing it yourself - part 2: for those of you with an in-house or local FileMaker whiz
Once you've had a chance to play with Studio Manager - set it up per the instruction manual and enter some jobs, we bet you'll want to change a few more things. If you have an in-house or local FileMaker whiz at your disposal, he or she will have a ball. Other than making sure you backup before making major changes, you are set to go. We are only a phone call or email away if you'ld like advice up front or after if you get stuck.
Where to get more customization help
If you've exhausted all other possibilities, you can always call us. Actually, you can call us right away, but we want you to know we aren't going to have our feelings hurt if you want to use your own resources.
Here's what we have to offer. Our staff does custom work remotely. We just finished a project for one of our clients in Toronto but work for people in far away places like South Africa, Turkey and Japan too.
Our customers often use FTP or YouSendIt or even email to make their files available to us over a weekend by prearrangement. They finish their Friday work day and we take over after that returning their Studio Manager file before work starts Monday morning. We usually get a contact phone and email for any questions we may have and sometimes our customers take a peek at what we've done over the weekend to provide feedback.
If you've opened your Firewall specifically to only allow password access via FileMaker, we can login to your system like your staff does and make your requested changes live. We can even use remote control software tools like those built into OS X Leopard® to take over your screen and walk you through a solution over the phone - or just fix or change something for you.
If and when you want the warm fuzzies of a real person on-site, we'll help you find a good consultant in your area. We work with a network of authorized Studio Manager consultants and one may be available in your area. If you find or know of a FileMaker consultant you like, we will help them get up to speed with Studio Manager quickly. Let us know when you would like our help. We are at the ready.