20 Years of Combat Experience…

Well this month makes it 20 years…for me in the FileMaker business “trenches”, and frankly it has been crazy, rewarding, frustrating…just about every adjective you can thing of.

A customer of ours recently asked…”what does that 20 years of experience mean?” The question was a funny one, since the answer is obvious to anyone with measurable experience…or who have dealt with a consultant or developer who lacks the experience.

Let me explain it in these terms… lets say you have a transportation business where you shuttle VIPS around a regional area, like New York or San Francisco…etc. You are essentially a fancy taxi company. CEOs and congressman will hire you to transport them in and out of the area. You have Limos, maybe some bodyguards to protect the VIPS, and you also have a helicopter or two. Well those helicopters are BY FAR the most expensive…and profitable assets in the company. I often hear…”people” are the most valuable resources…well…not always. 🙂 At $400 to $800 per hour…helicopters are cash sucking machines … powered by jet fuel and expertise. If the pilot wrecks one, your going to be sued, and bad things are going to happen to your business.

As the business owner… you decide you need to hire a pilot (since the helicopter won’t fly itself).   Your insurance company will not let you hire the first junior rookie pilot you meet.  Aren’t all pilots the same?  They have their pilot’s license … right?   Not exactly… junior rookie pilots tend to make poor decisions…due to the lack of experience they have.  They have good intentions…but they are still much more likely to be involved in a serious accident.

The same goes for your local FileMaker developer.  They might have their “FileMaker Certification” but it doesn’t mean that they have a clue about how to keep your project…and your company’s business processes out of trouble.   FileMaker developers… the ones without many years experience… need time to “cut their teeth” with more seasoned developers.  These senior developers can provide a needed “brain transplant” for the younger developers…helping the younger staff learn faster.  This helps the senior staff work more efficiently, give fresh new ideas and perspectives to the senior staff, while also keeping “training wheels” on the younger developer…so they don’t crash.

The junior staff that I always appreciate (and that I try to hire), are the ones that understand their limitations. This is opposed to a recent blog that was brought to my attention…when one junior developer was claiming that to be a great FileMaker consultant, all they needed was a little software, website, and “your in business.” Oh please. Just throw an 18 year old the keys to a Ferrari!

About 17 years ago…we were learning about credit card processing, and due to the lack of precautions…we inadvertently had a bad FileMaker calc field…which proceeded to tell a script to charge the CEO of American Express 6.9 million dollars…and the charge cleared and was accepted. Our customer was supposed to charge $690. We built some new experience that day!

Experience matters: with pilots, business owners, and FileMaker consultants. In fact, experience is probably more important than anything else. If you don’t have experience, then understand your limitations.