Post image for Studio Manager FAQ

Studio Manager FAQ

ON THIS PAGE
General Questions
FileMaker Pro Questions
How long will it take to get up and running?
FileMaker Requirements including FileMaker Server
Training
Accounting Questions
Customization
Upgrades and Updates
Miscellaneous Questions

General Questions

What types of businesses can use Studio Manager?
What are the main features of Studio Manager?
What distinguishes us from other time/expense and job costing programs?
Is it for Macintosh only? Can I use it on my Windows PCs?

What types of businesses can use Studio Manager?

Studio Manager can be used in any small business that does time and expense billing by the job. Because it is fully customizable, it can be modified to work for a wide range of businesses.

Studio Manager was created as a management tool specifically for designers and other creative professionals. Firms or work groups using Studio Manager range in size from one to 100 people. It is appropriate for both independent design studios and design departments in corporate or education environments. Any creative professional who does estimating and invoicing, and/or who wants to track time and expenses by job, will find Studio Manager useful. Related businesses that use Studio Manager are: broadcast design, web design, multimedia design, advertising, desktop publishing, photographers and illustrators.

What are the main features of Studio Manager?

Without getting into all the details: Job tracking, job cost tracking and reporting, estimating, invoicing, timesheets, scheduling, purchase orders, and contact management. There is also a payables module and the invoicing system does accounts receivable. Our Screenshots Tour page gives little overviews of each major component of Studio Manager with links to pages for each component. You can get a pretty good idea of what Studio Manager can do from these screen shots and descriptions. If your interest is peaked, download the free demo.

What distinguishes Studio Manager from other time/expense and job costing programs?

  1. We have 24 years of experience (since 1989) in building custom solutions for hundreds of creative services firms. The basis for the features found in Studio Manager comes from our direct contact with customers like you.
  2. The Studio Manager interface is designed with the critical eye of an artist and designer. Screen layouts are clean, well-organized and intuitive.
  3. Because it is based on the highly-acclaimed FileMaker database family of applications and because we don’t lock it up, Studio Manager is fully customizable.

Is it for Macintosh only? Can I use it on my Windows PCs?

Studio Manager was originally designed for the Macintosh. Although we continue to do all our development work on Macs, the files can be used on either a Mac or on a Windows PC.

Some years ago we decided to add the 3-digit extension (required by PCs) to our file names because Mac OS X likes them too. You can serve the files from either Mac or Windows. Clients can be on Macs or PCs regardless of the server platform.

FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server system requirements vary according to the version of FileMaker that you are using and also the version of your operating system. Not all combinations are supported. In general, if you want to use the latest version of FileMaker then you also need a current version of your preferred OS. Conversely, if you are committed to a particular version of operating system, then it must be fairly current if you want to run FileMaker 12. To be sure of compatibility, refer to the FileMaker website. Choose the Product that interests you and then click on Tech Specs.

General Questions index or TOP

FileMaker Pro Questions

Does FileMaker Pro come with Studio Manager?
Can I use it with an older version of FileMaker?
Do I have to buy a separate copy of FileMaker Pro for each person?
Can I access Studio Manager with a web browser?
For multiple users, do I need FileMaker Server?

Does FileMaker come with Studio Manager?

Although Studio Manager requires FileMaker software, that application is not included nor do we sell copies of FileMaker. It’s complicated but the bottom line is that we are too small to handle the requirements to resell and even if we did, the price would be higher than what you will find when purchasing directly from FileMaker, Inc. You need a separate copy of FileMaker Pro on each computer from which you wish to access Studio Manager. Depending on the number of concurrent users, you may also require a copy of FileMaker Server to run on a dedicated (or semi-dedicated) server computer. Remote devices such as the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch require FileMaker Go. Minimally, you need one copy of FileMaker Pro 12 to run Studio Manager 12.

Can I use Studio Manager 12 with FileMaker Pro 11? What about an earlier version of FileMaker?

If you still have FileMaker Pro 11, 10, 9 or earlier, you aren’t alone but those versions are sadly out of date. Time to upgrade. You must be running FileMaker 12 in order to use Studio Manager 12.

When you buy Studio Manager 12, you’ll have the best FileMaker-based creative services business software running on the best database (FileMaker) using the best of current technology. That’s a good place to start.

If you are going to be doing any significant customization, then it is worth it to purchase one copy of FileMaker Advanced because of the extra features. If you are considering upgrading, you may want to see Janet’s full discussion of the FileMaker Upgrade Decision on our FileMaker page on tokerud.com.

Do I have to buy a separate copy of FileMaker for each person in my office?

Even if the only thing they will do is to enter time, the answer is Yes. FileMaker Pro, Advanced and Server are all network copy protected. You are required to enter a License Key when you install any FileMaker application except FileMaker Go.

If you try to open more than one copy with the same key code on your LAN or WAN, at the same time, you will see an error message and FileMaker will simply quit on the 2nd computer with the duplicate code. If you have desktop and laptop computers that are never used at the same time, then go ahead and install FileMaker on each using the same license key.

Can I access Studio Manager with a web browser?

Yes. It is possible to customize Studio Manager to allow time to be entered via a web browser. You could also customize Studio Manager for other web-based tasks. Several of our clients have added web access for specific purposes. Keep in mind that web-based development is more costly and time-consuming than FileMaker development (which is why we haven’t done it).

For multiple users, do I need FileMaker Server?

If you have more than 9 concurrent users, then you need FileMaker Server. The server application has a wonderful backup function and other system monitoring and messaging capabilities that also make it attractive, even if you have fewer users. You might wince at the $999 list price if you are small firm, but it’s nice to have a really good server at the helm of your valuable business data. For more information about FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server, see the FileMaker, Inc. website: www.filemaker.com.

FMP Questions index or TOP

How long will it take to get up and running?

Are you willing to start small?
Do you have FileMaker experience?
How large is your staff?
Do you require customization?
Are you already maxxed out?

It depends. Here are some of the variables that affect how long it takes:

Are you willing to start small?

Most creative services firms, work groups and even individuals in the market for a product like Studio Manager are busy. You can introduce Studio Manager into your workflow gradually. Start by entering active contacts, which can usually be accomplished by importing the data. Next comes jobs. Enter just the ones that are current and new. In a very short time you will have enough data to produce a Job List. Continue to expand by using other features like timesheets, expense tracking, estimates and invoices. You will be up and running in no time.

Do you have FileMaker experience?

If you have used FileMaker before (even if it’s not the current version), you are already way ahead of the pack. You could be up and running in a week – creating estimates, entering timesheets and generating invoices.

How large is your staff?

It takes longer to get a large number of users going in any particular direction – it may feel like herding cats. If you are the only user, you work your way through the start-up section of the user manual in a few hours and go. We recommend a phased implementation where you start with the person who will be most involved with the system – often this is an office manager production manager or coordinator. Involve the owner, if at all possible, in decisions about billing codes and rates. Then, once one person is comfortable, have a reliable employee or two begin by entering their timesheets. Once they are on board, pick up the stragglers.

Do you require customization?

If cost is a concern, we recommend that you use Studio Manager as provided – at least at first. Try it as is to learn whether or not it meets your needs. You might even discover that something you thought you would need to add is unnecessary because Studio Manager accomplishes the same task more easily in a different way.

Are you already maxxed out?

You’ll need to go more slowly if you are understaffed and stretched to the limit with billable work already. If this is the case, don’t just keep Studio Manager sitting unopened on your hard drive or wait to buy it for the time someday when things will slow down. Instead, put in your clients and jobs and start using it to track your jobs. Job tracking pays off immediately and gives you some good initial experience with the conventions of Studio Manager. Add pieces as time permits.

Up and Running index or TOP

FileMaker Requirements including FileMaker Server

Do I Need FileMaker Server? If so, which version?
How is Studio Manager 12 different from older versions?
A little history

Do I Need FileMaker Server? If so, which version?

If you have more than 9 concurrent users for Studio Manager 12, then you need to run FileMaker Server 12.  According to their website: “FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Advanced databases only work with other FileMaker software that supports the .fmp12 file format”. So, unlike some previous iterations, the version numbers all need to match. The .fmp12 file format is different from previous versions. Previously existing files, including any previous copy of Studio Manager, must be converted to .fmp12. Once that has happened, this copy of the file cannot be opened by any prior version of FileMaker.

Check the FileMaker Inc. website for information on upgrades and new purchases. Their FileMaker Product Comparison PDF  [Please NOTE: clicking on this link downloads a PDF.] may be particularly helpful if you are not sure whether you require FileMaker Server or not.

How is Studio Manager 12 different from earlier versions ?

We totally overhauled Studio Manager’s user interface, again, in version 12 to incorporate new features including implementation of FileMaker 12’s layout templates. Doing so is a continuation of our commitment to keep Studio Manager as up-to-date as FileMaker itself.

We plan to continue improving Studio Manager to take advantage of whatever new features FileMaker throws our way. It is our intention to keep Studio Manager at the top of the list of comparable programs that are state of the art.

A little history – starting with Studio Manager 7

In 2004 and early 2005, we rewrote Studio Manager to take advantage of the groundbreaking infrastructure in FileMaker Pro 7. The result was Studio Manager 7. The FileMaker 7 architecture meant that we could not continue to simply convert files to new versions of FileMaker. We hesitated for a while because it would have been much less work to just convert the files and adjust them enough to make them run reliably on FileMaker 7. The most appealing feature in FileMaker 7 was the ability to have multiple tables in one file. That meant that Studio Manager could be cleaner, simpler and easier to work with. So we rewrote all of the scripts and fields and re-designed the layouts. It was a monumental piece of work that paid off.

Later we rebuilt Studio Manager again, this time with FileMaker 8.5, which gave us a significant competitive edge over non-rebuilt FileMaker-based offerings (our competition) although we aren’t naming any names. Studio Manager 9 made extensive use of a then new FileMaker Pro 9 feature: Conditional Formatting. Because Studio Manager 9 was developed with FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced, it required FileMaker Pro 9 or higher. In Studio Manager 10 we adjusted the height and width of all of Studio Manager’s screens to work better with the movement of the toolbar from the left side to the top of the screen. We added a calendar to display tasks and filter that calendar by client and job as desired and print the results to PDF or paper. Studio Manager 10 introduced an infinitely more powerful tabbed interface. Then, with FileMaker 11, came the advent of FileMaker Go, allowing us, for the first time, to develop for not just the computer, but also for the iPad and iPhone.

Throughout our history  we have continued to update not only  Studio Manager, but also the documentation and the demo. As we continue to update Studio Manager sub-versions, too numerous to detail, with relatively minor improvements and of course, bug fixes, we rebuild the demo, so that the demo you download is as close to the shipping product as we can manage.

Requirements index or TOP

Training

Do you offer on-site training?
Do I really need this training?
Can I use the demo as a training tool?
What if I really want on-site training?
Do you offer training outside of the United States?

Do you offer on-site training?

Yes. Although we have not done it very much. In the past we have scheduled appointments with customers to come in and assist with installation and on-site training several times. Almost every time, they have called back to cancel after reading the user manual.

Do I really need this training?

Not at all! After reading the Studio Manager manuals most of our customers realize that these documents answer all of their questions and concerns. Currently we have a Setup and Installation Guide as well as a User Manual. These files, included with the purchase of Studio Manager, are PDFs.

Since not everyone can afford the luxury of flying Janet in for a couple days of training, our goal has been to make the user manual so straightforward and thorough that you don’t need us to be there to get off to a good start. The vast majority of Studio Manager customers manage just fine without our handholding. They do well with our remote support by phone, email (with lots of screenshots and detailed how-to’s) and sometimes screen sharing – we answer questions and can assist with small or large customization projects.

You can contact Janet directly by calling (415) 789-5219 or even better by sending her an email. We love talking with you on the phone when we can get our time zones and schedules synced up. It helps us to know the question/situation by email up front so we can jump through hoops if necessary to meet your deadlines and needs. Never hesitate to contact us. We are eager to answer your questions whether prior to your purchase or after you are up and running.

Can I use the demo as a training tool?

Before going live with your own data, you can use the Demo with the Demo Manual to learn how Studio Manager works. Because the data is fake, you and key staff can learn, make mistakes and learn some more before you install the real deal. Using the demo is just one of many ways to get started.

What if I really want on-site training?

All you need to do is to pay our travel costs and consulting rates. As the chief developer and architect of Studio Manager, as well as being a skilled trainer, Janet’s consulting/training fee is $150 per hour. Her travel rate is $75/hour for SF Bay Area clients and $50/hour for longer treks. If you think this seems high, you haven’t worked with Janet before. At this time (August 2013) Janet is the only person available from Tokerud Consulting Group who is able to offer this service.

If you happen to be near us or within short flying distance, we think you would be foolish *not* to take advantage of our proximity. We know of no other FileMaker experts with our depth of experience working with the creative services industry. And, clearly, no one knows Studio Manager quite like we do.

Do you offer training outside of the United States?

If you do become a Studio Manager customer and you are in some faraway land (we have customers in such unlikely places as Bahrain, Italy, Iceland, Malaysia, Jordon, Turkey, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and South Africa as well as in all the English-speaking countries) let us know if you would like to be informed if we are going to be in your area – so we can offer you a special deal. Janet would love to visit some of our favorite customer locations such as England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (hint, hint).

Training index or TOP

Accounting Questions

Does Studio Manager link to QuickBooks?
Can I link it to another accounting program?

Does Studio Manager link to QuickBooks?

We get this question a lot. Probably half of our customers use QuickBooks. But, we think a direct link between Studio Manager and QuickBooks or any other accounting software is only worth the trouble in exceptional situations. Usually, you are better off just making summary entries into your accounting system. Please don’t enter all the details in both places if you can possibly help it. But, truth is, that is rarely required.

If you use a PC and QuickBooks, check out the FMBooks Connector Plug-in. Linking to QuickBooks requires Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, and of course a PC version of QuickBooks. Most of our customers don’t want to use even one PC for this purpose and we don’t even own a PC, so we have not used FMBooks Connector ourselves.

Can I link it to another accounting program?

A few commercial solutions are available. From our perspective bookkeeping & management are best kept separate from accounting. Due to that, we cannot vouch for them personally but they are produced by competent and experienced developers, some of whom we know personally. Check them out:

Compu-books
AccountEdge
Core2Invoices

Depending on your accounting program, this could be done by exporting summary records from Studio Manager to tab-delimited text files which you then import into the accounting program. It would only be a semi-automated solution unless you really get fancy and write an Applescript to complete the automation – we haven’t tried this and are leery because of unforeseen data matching errors that could cause problems. The difficulty of the customization may vary depending on the accounting package.

Keeping financial accounting and management accounting separate gives you more flexibility. Studio Manager covers the mission critical functions of a creative services business. Accounting programs keep score, conveniently reconcile accounts, print checks and help with end-of-year tax preparation.

Accounting index or TOP

Customization

Can I customize Studio Manager to use my graphics and fonts?
If I need customization, do I have to hire you?
Do you have consultants you can refer me to?

Can I customize Studio Manager to use my graphics and fonts?

Absolutely yes. You can use whatever fonts you want, add your logo or other graphics, modify existing layouts, add new layouts, change templates, put in a custom background or do whatever you want (within FileMaker’s capability) to make it look how you want it to look.

If I need customization, do I have to hire you?

Nope. Frequently we are asked to customize Studio Manager. We like to do this – we get to learn more that way. However, we also (1) often refer our customers to authorized studio Manager consultants (see below) when there is one close by to a customer location and (2) consult with our customers who want to do their own customization.

We almost always have at least one active customizing project in our shop. The advantage of working directly with us is that we are the developers, so we know Studio Manager better than anyone. The disadvantage is that we are a small shop, so we may not be able to start your project immediately. Also, there are a small number of areas of FileMaker Pro development that are not our particular expertise. If you have customization needs that we cannot address directly, we will let you know and make a referral to another qualified consultant or developer.

Do you have consultants you can refer me to?

We have an authorized consultants program and make referrals to qualified independent contractors in the US, New Zealand, Japan and Canada who are familiar with Studio Manager and/or whose integrity and skill we trust and respect. We are more than happy to refer you to these consultants if you want help modifying Studio Manager. Any agreement you make with a consultant outside of Tokerud Consulting Group is strictly between you and that contractor. [For more information, see the Consultants tab.]

Customization index or TOP

Upgrades and Updates

We now have a separate page for Upgrade
How do you deliver Studio Manager and upgrades?

We now have a separate page for information about Upgrades.

Our Upgrades tab has upgrade pricing and right below that, all the scoop about how you perform an upgrade, how long it takes and all that kind of thing.

How do you deliver Studio Manager and upgrades? Do you email or is it just posted on the web?

Right now we provide you with a download URL via email. We are investigating options that will allow customers to purchase and download without ever dropping us a line. That may make it more convenient, but it removes us one step from the process. If you are in a hurry to get your product, we suggest you call and email. We do check email often, but sometimes spam filters have their way with new inquiries so the extra phone call makes sure the deal gets done with speed.

Upgrades and Updates index or TOP

Miscellaneous Questions

Do you have references I can contact?
Is it web-enabled? Access via a web browser?
Versions for the Treo, Windows Mobile, Blackberry or iPhone?

Do you have references I can contact?

Yes. We do request that you be at the point of purchase, with a need to check references as your final step, before we release references just so that we don’t inconvenience our enthusiastic customers unnecessarily.

Is it web-enabled? Can I access Studio Manager via a web browser?

Some of our clients tell us that they have put Studio Manager on an internet server and are currently accessing certain features via a web browser. You could simply create a special layout in the Contacts or Jobs modules, for example, that you serve to the web. As far as the possibility of web-enabling the Studio Manager product itself goes, we have so far had our hands full perfecting and supporting the FileMaker-based LAN and WAN version of Studio Manager. Basic layouts for iPad and iPhone access via FileMaker Go on these mobile devices was added to Studio Manager 11. Because accessing Studio Manager via FileMaker Pro is so much more robust, we think most design firms will prefer this option.

If you have a lot of remote freelancers or a really big important client who you want to provide limited access to, you could add some limited access via the web for those specific situations. We’ve recently modified our startup script and added a few dedicated web layouts but they are just the groundwork on which you would need to build in order to achieve the web functionality you desire.

Do you have a version for the Treo, Windows Mobile, Blackberry or iPhone?

FileMaker Go was created to allow Apple mobile devices running iOS to access and run FileMaker databases. Special layouts are required and several were added to Studio Manager 11 and expanded in Studio Manager 12 for both the iPad and the iPhone/iPod touch. So far these are the only mobile devices that can be used to interface with Studio Manager. Since the ability to run Studio Manager on a mobile device depends upon FileMaker Go, we suspect that we’ll be limited to Apple devices only for some time. FileMaker is, after all, a fully-owned subsidiary of Apple.

Miscellaneous Questions index or TOP

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Powered by WP Hashcash