Years ago when designing our Small Business Software Toolkit, BusinessMaster, there were not many choices for desktop driven, relational databases. Product like Microsoft SQL, equired a separate server, which at the time meant almost full time IT staff! There was no clear front end development piece, and there just were not a lot of options for a networked environment. Microsoft Access was, and still is, one of the best relational database choices for a small business in our opinion.
We have had clients running 30+ workstations on their network. We have helped some clients avoid forcing them to make a big jump into another database system. We helped clients take advantage of the integration with other Office products (Excel, Outlook etc...). Couple that with the fact that the runtime version of Access is FREE, and you simply cannot easily beat this tool.
Yes, some IT pros and developers will complain about it. Some will make claims about scalability, or stability. However in our experience, there are a small set of factors that can negatively affect an Access based solution in the small business, and mastering them is far cheaper than the alternative:
- Maintaining a stable network: This means your routers and switches are stable, and don't drop out. Any modern switch or router is far more than capable of this. Replacing them is cheap. Using a UPS to keep them running is even better.
- Using a 1Gbs connection to the data storage: Most new networks we see aren't even using the traditional server, but a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, essentially a fast hard drive connected to the router. Many have multiple connections.
- Ensuring desktop connectivity: Keeping your desktops up to date with drivers, cabling tests, and system optimization is key. These things should be done regardless of your database solution as they keep productivity at a maximum. It's far more costly to have people waiting on data than updating their network card drivers.
- Avoid wireless connections: These are convenient, but not as fast or as stable as wired connections.
In addition, basic automated maintenance can be done to keep your database performing at maximum. We can also adapt the program through customization for your specific use. Different implementation scenarios can be employed in response to what you need to accomplish. For instance, some of our clients have lots of time collection, but very little MRP planning. Some vice versa. Some have tens of thousands of project phases, and minimal production work orders.
There are also options to hybridize the database. We can easily incorporate Microsoft SQL for portions, or even all of the data files if you need to. This makes remote use, web based interconnections, and mobile integration a reality.
Feel free to Contact Us about any needs or ideas you have regarding your organizational goals.
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We are very interested in talking with you about your needs. We want to make sure we are a good fit, and understand what you are trying to accomplish, and the best way we know how is some quick discussion. Please contact us via the link to get the process started.