barcodes 2Last year at the annual FileMaker Developer’s (DevCon 2015) conference, I presented a session on the technical side of integrating barcoding technologies into a FileMaker custom app. We see such a significant productivity boost every time we help an organization integrate barcodes into what had been a manual process, we often wonder why more businesses don’t do it.

First, acknowledge that barcodes beat people

  • People make mistakes. Data entry errors are common, and they have the potential to cause serious issues for your business. When you leave a person with the task of typing a serial number or identification number into a system, you introduce multiple points of failure. Those points of failure lead to inevitable mistakes. If your information is entered by a barcode scanner, it becomes instantly more reliable.
  • People are slow. I think most of us have come to accept that computers are going to be better than us at some things. The task of reading information and entering it into a computer is definitely one we gladly offload when we can. Consider how long it might take everyone to checkout at the grocery store if every single serial number on every single product had to be manually keyed in and confirmed.

Leverage existing infrastructure

FileMaker Go on iOS has barcode reading technology baked right into it so you can use your organization’s existing iOS devices, or your employee’s devices, to read barcodes into a custom app. It’s easy to implement, and it uses the device’s camera to scan the barcode, so there’s nothing additional to buy or manage.

Or use external scanners

If you need something a little more rapid fire than an iPhone camera, there are external scanners available that work with anywhere there’s a Bluetooth connection, meaning they could work with both FileMaker Go and FileMaker Pro.

Barcodes improve efficiency

MainSpring’s application development team recently created a custom app for FileMaker Go to allow a department within the Carnegie Institution for Science to manage a very fluid inventory. We took what had been a time consuming end-of-the-day process that often produced unreliable data and turned it into a fluid, robust, real-time process with just a couple of iPads and external scanners.

Essentially, whether it’s asset/inventory management, document tracking, or for event management purposes, integrating barcodes has a lower cost barrier than people may think, and the efficiency gained far outweighs any initial cost.

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