Design and implement your application with an eye toward seamless integration with the MIT network. Build for supported platforms and secure your application on MIT's open network. Be mindful of what it will take to support your application once post-deployment and how it might need to integrate with other MIT systems.
Limit the use of plug-ins to those which truly add required functionality, and which functionality can't somehow be built into your application through its native capabilities and features. Every new piece of software that you add to your application increases the amount of cost and maintenance required to keep your system going each time a new version of FileMaker is released and when any component is upgraded by its manufacturer.
Throughout the Institute, FileMaker is an integration point for data from several other sources, from enterprise systems like MITSIS to paper application forms to email messages. The more you standardize and automate the movement of your data, the greater its accuracy - not to mention the savings in data entry labor.
If you are entering Institute data into FileMaker from an enterprise system like SAP, access it via ODBC from the Data Warehouse, rather than duplicating it locally. Almost any staff, financial, or student data you might need is stored in the Warehouse and can be viewed via FileMaker directly. A Warehouse account, a properly configured ODBC driver, and a little knowledge of the backend system is all you need. The connection and access to the application must be secure, since most staff and student data is typically sensitive and protected by federal law.
External SQL Sources (ESS) ensures that you no longer have to import the data to access it. Carefully consider which data elements you should import and store, and which should just be viewable via ESS. The less data you store the better, for two reasons:
- Stored data quickly loses its "freshness" and will need to be purged and re-imported to preserve reliability
- Storing sensitive data comes with the responsibility and liability of protecting it adequately.
More information on FileMaker's ESS feature, see their technical brief.
Most reporting needs can be met by viewing rather than importing data. Typically you will only need to store data that you need to manipulate, that doesn't change often but you need to reference often, or is so voluminous that it impacts performance when you access it real-time.
Storing sensitive local data should be avoided. Any non-enterprise system that must house sensitive data for departmental business reasons should be hosted in a professionally managed environment. Hosting your system through a contract with any of the several hosting services offered through IS&T insures that appropriate action can be taken in the event of system or server failure or compromise.