Besides improving reporting and access to essential information, relational database software FileMaker is increasingly allowing companies to leave paper behind. Chelan Fresh Marketing, one of the largest marketers of fresh fruits in Washington state, began using FileMaker off the shelf 16 months ago, giving it a test run during the 2013 cherry season. The experience was so positive that they contacted a developer to help them create databases for their various products.

Chelan Fresh is taking a gradual approach to the process, but by the end of this year the company expects to be completely paperless. Now, sales representatives go into the field equipped with an iPad, on which they can access checklists, inspection logs and other documents that used to take up physical space.

They can record everything from harvest dates to temperatures, and even take photos of the fruit and update them directly to the app. Even if they are working in locations with poor or nonexistent network service, they can make a note of the necessary information and upload it later, so that it becomes immediately available to all users.

"You can add a lot more depth to your data because of the flexibility of the tool," said Chelan Fresh CIO Sam Godwin to The Packer. "It could be used a lot of different ways but it is a way of enriching the information and tying it together so everybody in the process is more informed and hopefully come to better conclusions long term."

Companies in all industries can enjoy the reporting benefits of FileMaker database development. With proper instruction, even businesses with limited IT resources can easily manage and update their own FileMaker apps.