Saturday, August 30, 2003

No collection management software.

Another thing I wanted to add to the effeciency of the workplace there was a database to collect information about our permanent collection and our sales/rental gallery. All of the information for the permanent collection was stored in a FileMaker Pro spreadsheet, and sales/rental items were tracked by paper... Unfortunately for the museum, the person that handled the sales/rental area left them, and in doing so took all the information that was in her head about that area. It was really pretty scary, having all that artwork, and needing to somehow come up with a system to track it's arrival, rental or sale, or even return to the artist. What I did was use the NorthWind database example from M$ Access and hacked it up to satisfy our needs. I used quite a bit of error checking on the input of data, really putting some tight reigns on that. I didn't want the data entry to become tainted. Some of the fine points are these:
  1. All the artists that exist in the DB have related objects, and possibly an exhibition to that object. This allowed us to enter an artist ONCE, and any objects and exhibits they were in at any time.
  2. I fleshed out the invoicing process to include things not present in the NW example;
    • percentages off on sales for museum members, s&h expenses, etc.
    • Lots of reports were added to perform invoicing, contract generation and the like
    • Automated the generation of exhibit labels using Word and merge [THAT took some VBA in the backround :)]
  3. Added a help file
Alot of this also meant that the Curatorial staff could request features at any time. This could have saved us literally thousands, since most software of this type is quite expensive. Unfortunately, we have stopped using this software because management seems to think that it has worn out it's usefullness... I'm sure we will have to "get off the pot, or shit" sooner or later, because we just took one HUGE step backwards. Buy or write, THAT is the question.

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