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Frequently Asked Questions

Submit new questions to: tecbase@hansensolutions.com.

Q. What is a station?

A. A station is organizational concept that connects all the hardware, software, users, and other related information. Think of a computer lab: each computer would be a station. In most cases, one computer equals one station. However, there are times when a station will have multiple computers, and times when a station will have none.

Many inventory databases associate software, IP addresses, users, etc. with a specific CPU. However, if you swap out the computer for a repair or replacement, you have to update all the related records. Not is you use the station concept. All the software licenses and user info is still current if you only change the CPU. Although it takes some getting used to, the station concept can be very flexible and allows you to create much more comprehensive reports. See the Station Naming Strategies help document for more information.

Q. What is the difference between a location and a station?

A. A location is basically a room—although it can be a mobile cart or anything that contains one or more stations. Every station is related to a single location. Each location can have zero, one, or many stations. Inventory reports are generally sorted by location, then by station, then by hardware. See the Station Naming Strategies help document for more information.

Q. Do I have to name my computers the same as my station name?

A. Although this has been useful on my network, it is not necessary. See the Station Naming Strategies help document for more information.

Q. Should I run inventory reports from Hardware or Placements?

A. The TB_Hardware table includes all hardware information regardless of status or station placement. Depending on how your organization keeps track of disposals and how often it updates its inventory, records in the hardware can be confusing. "Current" records in the TB_Placements table reflect the current station placement of each hardware item. Thus, I have found the reports generated from the TB_Placements to be the most informative.

Q. Do I have to place every hardware item in a station?

A. No. TEC-BASE is designed to be flexible. If it fits your organizational goals, you can use it how you see fit. In my case, hardware that has not been "placed" is likely missing and needs to be found. See the Station Naming Strategies help document for more information.

Q. What if I don't want to use the work order features?

A. Don't use them. The Tech Leaders' Homepage can be used only for its inventory purposes or not at all. As long as you don't publish the URL to the Users' Homepage, no one can use it to submit work orders. If you don't run TEC-BASE from a FileMaker Pro Unlimited server, none of the Web features will be available. See Requirements for more details.

You can use the work order features as an online project reporting mechanism. The TB_Tasks and TB_Update tables were originally designed to support group projects where group members might not see meet in person very often. They were converted into the work order process you see now to address other needs. Use them how you see fit.

Q. How do I import my current inventory data?

A. Logging in to the FileMaker Pro interface of TEC-BASE with the administrator password gives you access to use FileMaker's import command. The first step is to decide on a station naming convention. (See the Station Naming Strategies help document for more information.) Hopefully, you'll be able to convert current location information into station names. If not, you might have to do this by hand.

Try to get your hardware data into a spreadsheet-like table (a tab-delimited text file, an Excel spreadsheet, or a FileMaker Pro database would be acceptable examples). At a minimum, you'll need the following columns (fields): inventory tag number, serial number, brand, model, and station. In addition, you could add columns for most of your specs and hardware type.

Importing data from an existing file is a three step process: Import basic hardware information into the TB_Hardware table, import station names into the TB_Stations table, and import placements (hardware tag number and station name combinations) into the TB_Placements table.

Q. Can I use the hardware serial number instead of an inventory (asset) tag number?

A. If you can be sure that all hardware items will have a unique number, then yes. But I recommend adding your own asset tag. Serial numbers are generally long, hard to read, and difficult to find.