Information management with a database system has many benefits over other methods.
A distraction free interface focuses users on their information related tasks while keeping a vast store of other information hidden but always a click or two away. A database is more efficient, powerful, flexible and user-friendly than a spreadsheet or other file types. A well designed database interface can greatly increase productivity by focusing a user on a specific set of tasks with relevant tools, tips and automatic functions available instantly. Objects can grow appropriately as a window grows and multiple views of the same information in different combinations can provide exactly what is needed for a specific task in a visually pleasing view.
A database is more secure than a spreadsheet or other file types. You can define multiple levels of access, each with settings specifying which data can be viewed, edited, deleted, exported, printed and more. With enough patience and planning, it is possible to specify each access level’s ability to view or edit on a field by field basis. FileMaker Server supports external authentication allowing account information to be stored in the OS instead of being embedded in the database files which makes it easier to manage who has access to what information. No more worries about someone accidentally deleting a formula exist since all the programming is hidden from view and accessible only to those with proper security credentials.
A database can be configured to allow users access from remote locations via computers and mobile devices. iOS devices can run a free FileMaker Pro app that ensures access from anywhere in your office or the world while other devices can connect through a web browser. By designing specialized modules for use on smaller screens, users can complete tasks quickly without having to scroll or zoom. Your salesforce can enter notes about business meetings on the cab ride back to the office while their assistants update their schedule. Managers can assign task records to individual employees before reaching the office. Users will feel empowered by the freedom from their desks when a database is designed to use these modern capabilities.
Enforces Business Rules and Procedures
Business rules are important as they defend the integrity of the work and help you meet your customer’s expectations. A busy employee can become stressed out when managing a huge workload while struggling to remember onerous business rules. A database can automatically enforce these rules or present reminders or alerts when problems are detected. By encoding these rules into a database system, employees can feel more empowered to focus on their work rather than simply following rules.
Allows Monitoring and Tracking
A database can be designed to monitor, track and make available to authorized personnel an audit trail of what users viewed, created, edited, deleted or exported. It is even possible to setup an archival process that allows retrieval of deleted or overwritten information providing a safety net in the event of an inadvertent deletion of important information. Reports can be generated showing any number of user activity and these can be automatically sent by e-mail daily or immediately if a more urgent problem is detected.
Encourages Collaboration and Resource Sharing
Databases can be networked and shared with an entire team or with everyone in a company, each working on different records simultaneously. A task can be assigned and reassigned, moving from one person to the next fluidly and efficiently. Complex information can be broken into separate records allowing multiple people to work on different portions of a single document or task simultaneously. A well-designed system allows various resources to be shared. Popup lists, text snippets, informational templates and more can be created, stored, edited and used throughout a system as easily as every other type of data. This improves efficiency when entering or manipulating commonly used pieces of information.
When your documents are each uniquely formatted and spread out in no particular manner across a server and on user’s workstations there is no practical way to improve efficiency or automate any portion of the process. When all of your data is contained in a single, structured system, it becomes easier and cost effective to introduce automation into the workflow. Within a database, tasks of varying complexity can be encoded into scripts. Users can trigger these with a click of a button or they can be performed in response to user activity on layouts and in fields. For example, when a record’s status is changed, a script can initiate a specific action based on the value entered. Combing a database system with the power of AppleScript opens up a whole new world of automation possibilities. Data can be extracted, created, manipulated, condensed, compiled and more.