Effective data management can really empower your business giving you the edge
over competitors, improving efficiency, reducing costs and increasing revenues.
We often work with companies that are using a confusing mess of spreadsheets
to manage their data (and in some cases even paper based systems) which can
make the day to day business process more complex and involved especially if
you aren't familiar with the system.
In this article we will discuss the benefits of organizing your data and moving
to a simple database such as Access.
Benefits of databases.
A simple database is often a lot better for managing your data than a flat
file system such as Microsoft Excel or Works. Microsoft Access is the ideal
solution for most small to medium businesses to manage their data. Beyond Access
there is Microsoft SQL Server (and also the desktop edition MSDE) for larger
enterprise data applications.
The list below addresses some of the issues that we find users struggling with
when working with flat file systems that can be overcome by using Microsoft
- A user interface can be designed with built in reports and queries to make
use of the system more intuitive and easier to learn.
- The data is available to multiple users simultaneously for adding, editing
- Databases are a lot more efficient when dealing with large amounts of data
particularly if the data is relational.
- Data quality and integrity can be maintained through constraints and relationships
reducing errors and duplication.
- Your data is highly available and can easily be queried and analyzed to
gain better understanding of your business and customers.
- Access will export tables and queries to a multitude of formats should you
want to work with your data in Excel or similar.
- ODBC databases such as Access are easier to integrate and link in with other
data systems to allow cross system reporting and querying.
- Access databases can be scaled fairly easily to larger database solutions
such as Microsoft SQL server if your data needs grow.
Should I be using a database?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you should be seriously
considering using a database such as Microsoft Access.
- Is your data relational (e.g.relating product sales to customer)?
- Do you have more than a few thousands rows?
- Do you need more than one user to have concurrent access to the data?
- Do you want to run complex queries (particularly across relational data)?
- Is a lot of your data textual rather than quantifiable?
- Are you already using multiple spreadsheets or workbooks?
- Do you find there are duplicate rows in your existing spreadsheets due to
Why don't people use databases when they should be?
Effective database design isn't something that can be learnt overnight, it
takes time to understand your data and then be able to convert that understanding
into a usable database.
There are then all kinds of other issues when it comes to designing the
user interface with forms, reports and queries that often need at least
some basic programming skills to achieve the desired result.
What's the solutions?
The key is to take time to get to grips with at least the basics of Access
and database design. There are plenty of online resources and developer communities
where you can get useful information and support.
The alternative is to get in someone who can understand your business and
data requirements and come up with a solution for you. It doesn't have to
be complex, it may only be a handful of tables and forms. Why not contact
us to see if we can help?
Whilst efficiently managing your data isn't always the simplest of tasks it
is certainly worthwhile analyzing your requirements thoroughly even if it means
getting a third party involved. At the end of the day it may cost you to get
an effective database application in place but it will give you the edge over
competitors and in the long run potentially save you thousands and even make