Hi guys, firstly hello to what is easily the best forum for this subject!!

I'll try to keep this simple.

I run a small business managing service contracts and a team of field engineers carrying out maintenance and repairs. We now have some national contracts and I want to move away from our paper system of issuing job sheets and receiving work reports to make the whole process slicker and so that I can gather key service level data.

In the first instance I want to build a database that:

1. our repairs desk team can use to enter jobs as they are received by phone/fax/email.
2. can be used to allocate engineers to jobs and send job sheets/instructions electronically either via email or other smartphone method.
3. will enable engineers to complete and send electronic work reports.
4. interrogate for job status, site asset data, planned maintenance due, etc.

Eventually I will want to integrate inventory and invoicing but don't want to run before I can walk.

I like the idea of learning how to go about this myself.

In an ideal world I would come up with a solution that ticks these boxes:

CASH: CRM, Estimates, Job Costing, PM Schedules, Service Calls, Invoicing, SLA, Profitability, PDAs

BUT, which path do I take to learn? Do I need a web based database?

I am reading HEAD FIRST BOOKS HTML and CSS, also SQL for the database. I have installed MySQL.

I am quite familiar with Microsoft Access but now use a Mac and am looking for an alternative. I have used Rapidweaver and Dreamweaver (partially) to OK effect. I love creating and am logical.

Am I on the right path with MySQL or should I keep it simple and go for something like Filemaker Pro?


This is a long term objective, say 12-24mths. The learning experience and skills I acquire are as important to me as the final product.

Any suggestions gratefully received.