Color plays such an important role in all aspects of daily life that choosing the ideal palette of colors can be a daunting task. So how do businesses manage color choice and color coordination for their products and programs? How do they keep track of the details and progress of every job for each customer?

At our Color Marketing and Design Department, the business of color is managed by a FileMaker Pro database that tracks all aspects of the department's consulting services - from entry, through design, to shipment to total sales volume.

The department brings a broad cross-section of graphical, spatial and psychological principles to meet the needs of each customer. This knowledge is invaluable to professional customers as the department's color experts plan distinctive, individualized color designs for residential and commercial design applications.

Color has always played a vital role at The Sherwin-Williams Company, North America's largest manufacturer of stains and coatings. In 1939, one of the company's color consultants served as an advisor to a Columbia University conference on school bus construction. The consensus was that yellow was best for visibility during early mornings and late afternoons, and school buses across America have been yellow ever since.

Every day, our marketing and design staff help professionals in a wide range of markets - ranging from the homebuilder, health care, hospitality and education industries to industrial plant maintenance - create more marketable, aesthetically pleasing and stress-free environments. The department also provides color-consulting services to consumer product and equipment manufacturers, in order to help them to enhance the appearance of their products through the use of color.

Regardless of the market or the application, all of these complex assignments require the efficient processing of large volumes of data, ranging from technical specifics on each phase of every project, to step-by-step tracking as each project moves through the production process.

The FileMaker Pro database makes all day-to-day operations of the department quick and efficient. Since FileMaker Pro works on both PC and Macintosh computers, every staff member in the department has easy access to the data, regardless of which operating system they're using. This means there are no backlogs of information, and no delays finding essential data. As a result, sales representatives respond faster to customer inquiries, with the status of any given project available with a few easy clicks.

In addition to day-to-day operations, the database is the main source of records for the department. The database allows users to print multiple reports on project status for regular field distribution, to track and generate monthly and yearly reports on projects and sales, and to track and document contributions to department workload. In fact, reports can be automatically generated at any stage of any project on individual, departmental or executive levels.

Every customer is different and every application is unique. With its ability to allow anyone to track any job at any time, the FileMaker Pro database helps Sherwin-Williams maintain its custom approach to the world of color.

Sheri Thompson is Director of Color Marketing and Design for The Sherwin-Williams Company's Paint Stores Group. She is a member of the International Color Marketing Group, as well as a member of the Construction Specification Institute.

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