When specific software companies build one-size-fits-all programs such as inventory managers for their clients’ use, there are both pros and cons. Such is the case for Fishbowl, a company out of Utah whose management system was running our client’s site.
One-size-fits-all can be great; from the scarves that keep us warm in the winter to the socks that comfort our feet as we run that last mile, the idea that not all things be made with extreme specificity is practical. But in the case of Fishbowl, we found the solution to be customization, not default fit and in the process saved our client thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, our client needed a customized web interface. His system utilized a Firebird database and exposed an API for third-party applications. The information we needed in order to build this interface, however, was limited; Fishbowl’s API provides ultra-limited (and therefore stifling) data access. Vital information about our client’s vendors like identification, e-mail, phone number and shipping terms were completely vacant. To top it off, there was no way to make a single purchase order.
The system needed a change.
After contacting Fishbowl’s Support Team and learning that not only were single purchase orders unavailable as a function but purchase orders as a whole were entirely inaccessible, we were provided an interesting wild card. They tried to sell us on their continued services. A membership-based technical support service quoted at about $1495 per year, to be exact. That’s not to forget the resolution cost, sitting pretty at $2400. We politely declined.
System customization for cost-efficiency
After a bout of heavy research, our developers came to a conclusion; they’d use an ODBC connection alongside the Fishbowl API to allow the system to enable the retrieval of the information we needed to make our client’s system run the way he needed it to; with near to no help from Fishbowl itself, this was no easy feat.
We ran into memory issues, segmentation fault and finally the Fishbowl API ceased to work as a whole. After a massive debugging process we were able to find the culprit; one particularly ornery PO. As we like to say, Murphy’s Law is best ascribed to the software industry.
By the completion of our product, though, we’d saved our client thousands of dollars in unnecessary cost that he likely would have ended up paying had he approached Fishbowl directly in the beginning.
The thing about fishbowls, after all, is that they tend to house things that go belly-up when times get rough.