My name is Michael Harnar and I’m an advanced graduate student in Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University. I’ve always been interested in capturing and managing data and my tool of choice is FileMaker Pro because it works on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. I’ll give you a few tips on how to use it and connect you with resources to learn how to maximize this tool.
Hot Tip: It’s never too early in a project to start collecting important data and many program managers overlook this critical piece. A relatively inexpensive, but very powerful database tool worth checking out is FileMaker Pro (FMP). FMP comes with templates to get you started and there are free tutorials online. You can host FMP on a company or University server so multiple computers access the database file across a network, or mount it on the Internet and access it anywhere. Adapting FMP is much easier than some of the more complex databases and its price tag is palatable by most program managers. http://www.filemaker.com/
Once you learn how to use this relatively easy software you’ll be able to help your clients better manage data, which will make your evaluation job easier. Can you say consistent, dependable, complete data? I know you can, and I know you will. You’ll get closer to that when you can provide your clients with an easy to use database that serves their needs. I’ve used FMP to manage my personal bibliography for all my writing projects and have deployed database solutions for clients on FMP. It’s a win-win choice!
Rad Resource: The FileMaker Forums is where the FMP expert programmers hang out online. I’ve posted numerous questions and have gotten quick responses that moved my FMP designs forward. It’s free! http://bit.ly/fmpforum
Rad Resource: FileMaker Training Videos. I found this resource to be very helpful. Most of their video training uses an invoicing solution, but once you learn the basics you will extrapolate it to your needs. There are a number of free videos on that sight that will get you started – no need to invest in the expensive ones too soon. http://www.databasepros.com/index.html
This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.