Software optimize

Office poll: Do you ever use Excel instead of Access as a database?

A lot of users ignore Access and turn to Excel for most of their database needs. In this week's Office poll, we're interested in discovering whether you fall into that category and if so, why.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

42 comments
NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If all I need is a two-dimensional array with no external relationaships, why do I need to get Access involved? Excel just works better for simple parts lists and other simple lists that I use locally. Even my store equipment inventory is nothing more complex than a multiple-sheet workbook.

jnanning
jnanning

I am an expert at both Excel and Access and for quick on the fly or just sorting and organizing functions I will always favor Excel... If the project is an ongoing one needing repeated access or use or use by others then Access becomes the program of choice but for speed and ease of use my vote goes to Excel...I have spread sheets with thousands of lines of data and I can manipulate and access what I need from these data sets much quicker in Excel. For data sets with multiple references or one-to-many or many-to-one references than Access is would be much better at handling that type of data....

CEHinman
CEHinman

After reading some of these responses there?s apparently a lot of people who don?t know what Access can really do. I have used it for about 10 years now after finding out our main accounting program was built on it. I have created applications for bidding jobs, client contacts, job applicants and jobs (with a feature to insert a mileage parameter and return all applicants within that parameter) Bidding sheets that open Word and insert all needed information into an existing contract?.. SO much can be done with Access?. IF you take the time to really learn it.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

When i think of a database, in old school terms, it reflects what is today renamed CRM. A Customer Resource Manager needs to be able to track calls, visits, appointments, run a diary, create and manage tasks etc. Excel, while i use it for transferring database info or saving backups of custimer data, just does not offer the tools needed to manage clients. Even Access falls short without a lot of design work, but it can suffice as a record manager.

dewdrop
dewdrop

Access is clearly a better tool, but it doesn't work well (IMHO) for collaboration. I haven't figured out how to develop an Access Form (for example) and make it so big that the spell will be readable as a projected image. I have recently learned some VBA macros that make it easier to datestamp updated records, but I wish I had a two level combo box in excel like I have in Access (with other learned tricks).

davefales1
davefales1

Access doesnt work for my Mac users. So I convert .xls or .xlsx to FileMaker Pro, that also gives me better web options.

Steelers6
Steelers6

Crazy as it sounds we are give M.S. Enterprise, but our IT Dept has a policy that we will not provide technical support for it. This along with the lack of training leave employees to use what they are most comfortable with and for a database that would be Excel. Why would IT have such a poicy we must obide by when the end users need assistance. I'm talking about a company with over 5K employee's it down right dumb IMHI.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Especially if I'm the only one using the data. I use a spreadsheet to track my inventory of client systems hardware and software. I have three macros to sort it in the ways I need most frequently. I also have a workbook at home I use to track data for a fantasy racing league - how many times a player has chosen each driver during the season. One sheet is raw data, three are formatted reports bases on the first. I'm considing moving it to Access and I may do so over the off-season. It depends on how much trouble it turns out to be; I haven't worked seriously with Access since 2000.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

For instance, inventories. I did an inventory of about 1200 items recently. It's supposed to be an annual inventory but we haven't done it for more than 5 yrs. It needs to be sorted several different ways for different reports but there isn't a need for a relational database here. As a matter of fact using Access for this would take more time. Excel is easy.

moktarino
moktarino

I use intermediate xls files in vbscripts as databases, use T-SQL on'm. Excel does a good job of sanitizing data, so I pump it through that before shipping it off to MSSQL.

mulgravia
mulgravia

I have been using excel for our domestic budgeting for about five years now. It covers 12 months plus one month overlap for the whole financial year in UK which in our case is April through to April the following year. Each month's Income and Expenditure is carried forward to the next. This gives us a snapshot of our weekly finances right through each month to the end of the financial year. Each month is contained in one sheet and I have a single sheet which contains a summary of each month. I just click on any month to view or update as may be required. When the year is completed, I save the Book for reference and make small changes to the existing to begin the following year. I would not be without it. Mulgravia.

kevaburg
kevaburg

Excel is a formidable tool. The ability to link worksheets and workbooks allow (in theory) a global network of spreadsheets and computations to be performed. For me though, if I need to extract specific information regularly or irregularly, then purpose-built queries can save an enormous amount of time. The reports function can then generate very professional reports at nothing more than the touch of a button. If this wasn't a well-used and popular function of databases, then I am sure than large database vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle was not have included an extensive reporting feature in their products. Each to his own of course, but Excel has a part to play as does Access. But for me, I see the problem as being a lack of knowledge for one product or another and that is why a tendency to one or the other occurs.

ian
ian

It's called horses for courses. It depends on the data input, the type of output, who will use, how many will use, who will maintain it. If it works for you and yours, then it's ok.

staffordd
staffordd

A CRM is a CRM !!! Databases are used to store, query and output information. They are NOT a dedicated app like a CRM - that's a special application, part of which is an underlying database containing customer and related info. A CRM is just one type of database. A database with bells and whistles that relate to Customer management. Other databases might contain product information. These will look NOTHING LIKE a CRM. Other databases might contain information about people. These will look NOTHING LIKE a CRM or a PRODUCT DATABASE. Other databases might contain information about databases. Etc. Some of the latest comments, where you speak about how every Access database dies when the author leaves, or having no data entry standards in a company of 5000 - those are NOT anything to do with this discussion. Because those are DATA problems, Data Quality to be exact, and that's something that is OUTSIDE of the whole Goldmine v Access v Excel v Filemaker argument. If people DON'T CARE about the data, or the process, and are too lazy to have the discipline to update it and use it with a sense of accuracy and quality, then yes, the database (or spreadsheet, or Goldmine) will die when the "caring individual" leaves. So this is two problems. Your staff don't care (because they have no awareness of how poor data quality negatively affects all businesses) so you either need to fire them and hire people who do care, OR, train them to care. Then it wouldn't matter if you used file cards, or the most sophisticated database on earth - if your data was quality, EVERYTHING would work better. Access and Excel are NOT responsible for people's inability to spell, their inability to follow rules, their inability to do something the same way twice (be consistent), their inability to distinguish between poor quality data that is riddled with duplicates, errors and omissions, and high-quality data. Data quality CAN be acheived, but, you need to ensure that ALL staff who come into contact with ANY data, are thoroughly trained and actually understand and CARE. That's a....tall order. Humans don't care about data quality. Most humans don't even know what it is! Or ever think about it. So what you need to do, is either re-train everyone, or, fire everyone and hire a whole bunch of people that are of the "database author" quality level. And someone else commented on the poor quality of the abandoned Access databases they found. But again - just a training issue. There is using Access (or any program) and then there is USING ACCESS WELL. Very few people do the latter. But, to be truly fair, I would also say that with Excel, very few people use it well. With Word, very few people use it well. With Power Point, very few people use it well. Probably because they don't see the difference (yet) between poor and good quality data. When they do - that's when they become an invaluable asset. Those are the people you want more of. The ones who don't care, and don't use apps well, and create reams of useless, broken documents or spreadsheets or databases - not so good. So data quality is a huge issue, the container you use - Access, Goldmine, Filemaker, Excel, Word, PP, whatever - is really not so important in itself. Having said that, when you use these containers, having FULLY trained experts who are conscious of data quality and USE THE APPS well - well, that's what you want. Else - failure. I read a white paper recently that estimated that the US had lost 1.5 trillion dollars in one year DUE TO POOR DATA QUALITY (which causes multiple scrap and rework scenarios in manufacturing for example). One point five TRILLION dollars. Because of poor quality data. Hmmmm...... So I think too, that maybe we should focus less on "is Excel better than Access" and more on getting the data RIGHT. But that's just one man's opinion. Have fun! D.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

1) For us it's a niche application. There aren't enough people who use it (or Project or Visio) to make it worth my learning it in enough detail to support it. I can't learn every app we bring in; I have to concentrate on those used by the most people. 2) Of the dozens of Access databases I've seen developed, none survived the departure of the author. In all cases the author was the only one who cared about the data being gathered, and after he or she left no one remaining was interested in the numbers. The few I looked for giggles were so poorly constructed they would have require an entire rewrite if they were to be brought up to my standards.

kevaburg
kevaburg

With so many employess and no standard data entry methodology? I bet things get messed up quite often. For an organisation that large, I can understand the negative reaction to Access. It simply isn't designed for an organisation that size. But there should be a database application in place if for no other reason than as a centralised data repository. A lot of the solutions required in your case depend on the type of business you are in, but the fact you even HAVE an IT department points to soemthing quite large that needs to be caraefully controlled and maintained. Someone needs to do their homework as far as your business systems are concerned.

kevaburg
kevaburg

should a solution be based on the fact that only one person (the creator) is going to use it, or should a solution be based on the POSSIBILITY that several unskilled workers MIGHT have to use it? For example, who might need to use your solution if you are off work sick or on holiday? Of course, your Excel solution for your fantasy racing league seems to be a logical one, but I would look at analysing my data (how many people select which drivers for example) using PivotTables as a statistical tool. But like I have to say (a disclaimer if you like) if a solution works, it can't be wrong! Thoughts?

kevaburg
kevaburg

....I'm not a fan of large flat files. They can get too large and cumbersome in a very short amount of time if you aren't careful. I restrict the use of spreadsheets to situations where I need to calculate, and I use Access (or similar) where I need to store and amend data with a need to recall it quickly if required. I have seen clients and customers all to often choose an inappropriate solution to a somewhat simple problem. Even for your inventory, I would have used Access simply because of its ability to quickly create reports based on queries and its user-friendliness when switchboard and forms are created. These aspects in themselves point to a solution that even someone not trained in the software product can use effectively use. Large flat files are excellent for inter-operability and data-import functions. I would not consider using them for day-to-day business activities.

kevaburg
kevaburg

Could you explain that please? It seems to me you are simply double-handling your data.

davidt
davidt

We have some legacy database applications, but are slowly converting everything to Excel because we no longer have an Access\Visual Basic person in-house. For awhile we outsourced it, but it ran into a bunch of money and we were unhappy with the results. Since we're a fairly small company it works out okay - if we were larger, it would not be a good idea at all.

staffordd
staffordd

Well... I can't resist. I really feel this strange compulsion to defend Access. Sure, Excel is EASY. Anyone can use it. You can load data into it in columns and rows. You can use formulas, sort, filter. If you are more experienced, you can use pivot tables and make pretty charts. But - if I want to KNOW something about my data, ANY data, I need to be able to QUERY it. And Access has the innovation that Excel doesn't, the QBE (Query By Example) grid. If you take the time to learn how to use this PROPERLY, either by learning to write expressions, OR by using the handy built in Expression Builder - you will NEVER go back to Excel again. Unless you need a sequence of numbers like 1,2,3,4,5. Or your data is financial and you want to make pretty coloured pie charts to look at. Having the ability, in Access, to VIEW data (the SELECT query) while specifying ANY criteria, is a HUGE ADVANTAGE over that dullard Excel. If I want to view records that were Originated in Belgium, were Coloured orange, were created between 20080101 and 20090101, were written up by salesperson Jim Beam, were taxable not resale, were for use for a project called "AccessExcelArgument", were valued between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds total, and, ONLY where the end customer equalled "Microsoft" and ONLY when the invoice is PAID vs UNPAID - and I could add more criteria here - querying by this complex scenario can be done with... ONE QUERY. I could write that query in Access in less than 20 seconds. Execute it in 5 seconds, answer on the screen. How would you go about showing me those records in Excel? I do not expect any serious answers to that, because I don't believe there ARE any. Access is far, far more powerful than Excel. You can update a value in 500,000 rows in a few seconds using the UPDATE QUERY. Which ALSO lets you select the same type of COMPLEX, MULTIPLE CRITERIA I described above. So - update a certain field to a certain value, when records originated in Belgium etc etc etc....(see above paragraph). Again - how would you do that in Excel? As far as getting a quick look at some data - the aggregate function query is remarkable. Within seconds, you can count, sum, etc. the data in your table and get instant feedback about how many records meet certain criteria. No filter required (although they are available if you are working in a table rather than with queries). I hate to say this, and I don't dislike Excel, but I think a lot of the people who rave about Excel either a) have never used Access b) have only used it in a very simplistic way, thus NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT IS CAPABLE OF c) are afraid I might be right I was very, very fortunate. An experienced Access user spent a year teaching me Access during the development of a process. So I learned the SHEER POWER of the Access Query. Yes, Excel is brilliant. You can calculate and filter and so on. Pivot tables, beautiful coloured charts...you name it. But you can't query your data!!!! You can't easily determine statistical information (the most IMPORTANT information) about your data. How many records? How many records that LOOK LIKE THIS (see criteria paragraph example above, again)? How many records are CANCELLED? How many are OUT OF DATE? How many have a null value in the Column "PAID"? (Yes, I know the Excel filter will do that - but, you have to load it, set the criteria EACH TIME - in Access, it's stored, saved, - you hit RUN and get an answer NOW!) Yes, in Excel, you can answer some of those questions with a filter. BUT, you could not SAVE that filter. In an Access database, you can SAVE queries, and re-run them as your data CHANGES. You can build out series of update, delete, and select queries, including statistical aggregate queries that give you real info about your data, and STORE them permanently in the database. You add new information to the database, and then you can re-run queries (one buttonpush, instantly, no filtering or typing required) to see the changed results. For more advanced users, macros are available, so you can create an entire sequential process using various queries, then code it to a macro, then turn that macro into CODE. ALL without knowing how to WRITE code. How brilliant is THAT? The ONLY area Access really falls down in, is reporting. Access reports are not easy to make. However, that's been recognised and admitted for years, and that's why products like Crystal Reports and so on were created. But for QUERYING data, and being able to LEARN about CHANGES to data, by using stored queries or macros or code - it's way beyond anything I've ever seen Excel used for. Why do you all dislike Access so much? Part of me says, because you haven't taken the TIME to explore what it can REALLY, REALLY do. It's the world's first user friendly database. It's a database ANYONE can use. You do not have to learn to write code, you just have to understand the concepts, and learn how the tools work. The tools - are extremely powerful. When I look through the options in Excel, you know, for various calculations, I see a limited set of simple options. LEFT, MID, etc. Sure, there are a few complex ones, but nothing like what you see when you open the Access Expression Builder. From there, you have a toolbox that will let you do pretty much anything a "real" database will let you do. In some cases, Access actually does things that a SQL database cannot do! So the idea that Access isn't real, or isn't mature - I disagree. You have to TAKE THE TIME to LEARN what it can do. I spent a year learning it. Then I spent the next 13 years USING IT. And rarely, if ever, touching Excel. Sometimes. If I want a nice pie chart. Yes, Excel does CERTAIN THINGS better and faster than Access. But to me, the lack of the ability to query your data, the lack of the ability to STORE those queries - cripples it from the get-go. Everything has to be re-built every time (unless you write the macro from hell, but even then - Excel macros very, very often go wrong!). To view data using the simplest selection criteria, you have to MANUALLY build that criteria into a CUSTOM FILTER. Not so with Access. You have a stored query, you hit run, it returns the data. End of. It's so much faster, so much better, and to be frank, I don't understand why people USE Excel. It's so, so limited. Until very, very recently, you could only do 65,000 rows. That was never useful to me, since the database I supported had 1.5 million rows. The next one had 12 million rows. And what did we use for analysis? Access. Sure, we used SQL for the 12 million item database itself. But, to ANALYSE, to QUERY, to identify trends, to view statistical data about the data...guess what again, port it out of SQL to Access, and query it - in Access. Update it with Access, then PORT THE UPDATED RECORDS BACK INTO THE MASTER SQL DATABASE. Easy, quick, works. Now, for the past five years, I've NOT had a job where I used Access all day long. And I probably use Excel more than I ever did, since almost no one in my company understands Access. But when I need to KNOW things about data - Access is the FIRSt place and the ONLY place I go. To me, using Excel as a database is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. With all due respect, Excel is meant for accountants and other number crunching tasks. NOT as a serious database. Access, despite negative comments about it, IS a serious database, and an excellent, flexible tool. Or, so it seems to me, given my experience with it. Don't knock it until you've TRIED it. And I don't mean fiddling about with it for a few hours. Learn it PROPERLY, use it for a year, and THEN come back and extol the virtues of Excel to me - I'm always happy to listen. I love Access. It's paid my rent for the last 13 years, so it can't be all bad. And, it seems to me, companies WANT people like me, who can store and analyse their data. ANYONE can operate a spreadsheet. But only a certain type of analyst can create a database, query it in COMPLEX, DETAILED ways, and produce the kind of detailed REPORTS on data, based on complex multiple criteria, that an Access or database-trained person can. I do not consider myself expert, not by far. But I know enough to know - Excel is for calculating, for pie charts, for pivot tables, for pretty colours. Access is a real database with serious functionality and the QBE grid and the Expression Builder are so far beyond what Excel does, it's not even funny. Really. You should TRY them. Stop telling me how well you have handled a data task in Excel, when you've never even TRIED it in Access, and, you might find out, shock, that in the end, doing it in Access is easier, faster, more accurate - better. Sure, maybe you have to do some work up front to get it set up that way. Excel gives instant gratification, and if you have a short attention span, and can't be bothered doing things properly, then it's perfect. But there is an art to building a database, building a process with queries, and being able to provide truly quality, excellent, detailed information about the data that would be very difficult indeed to produce using Excel alone. It's too slow??? NO. Maybe...just maybe, it's YOU that are too slow at Access (no offence meant here, speaking about software). You WILL be slow at first. But after a while - you will be faster than Excel. Once you have the knowledge and experience, you can build an entire database, all the queries needed, and then set it free - all you need is updates to the main data, and you can re-produce any reports or statistical analysis you need, in seconds. For years. I used to use Access databases for everything under the sun. Usually, there would be certain tables that were appended to, deleted from, and updated, using stored queries or macros. If it needed to become a permanent process, we would convert the macros to code, and give it to the real developers to emulate. So you can use Access as a tool, to generate process code that can be converted into applications. If you so desire. I really feel this strange need to defend it, despite my love/hate relationship with all products Microsoft. If I have to pick "love" for any of them, Word, Excel, PP, etc. it's going to always, always go to ACCESS. Enjoy D.

Kostaghus
Kostaghus

I've been upon Access ever since its inception. As a long time user of FoxPro (ever since it was only FoxBase command line...), I was ever on the lookout for a replacement. However, Access does not seem to be what I was looking for. It lacks command line capabilities and as a rule, is not an integrated development environment. It's also too heavy and too large to use it for small, everyday jobs. Such as keeping a tag on orders, or invoices, or documents out of the company, or as well said for household budgeting. Excel is niftier and more slender. I'd say Excel is Jackie Chan while Access looks more like Schwarzenegger...

Rick_from_BC
Rick_from_BC

Much easier to use Excel for smaller databases, and use Word to merge the data into various reports than with Access. Also, prepping raw data for Excel is easily done in Word: removing extraneous spaces, setting up tabs, changing the order of data, etc.

ian
ian

I do similar but use an Access database, which allows much more sophisticated analysis. For example, every entry has both a category (eg groceries) and a context (eg home, holiday etc), and as the database is fully normalised, adding categories and contexts is a simple matter. Anally retentive or what? I do sometimes export queries into Excel to give a graphical view.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Why should I break out the drill-driver to remove a 6-32x1/2 machine screw when the #1 Phillips will do the job in less time with less effort? It all comes down to selecting the tool that will do the job with the least amount of effort. I use Access for my book catalog because of the report options. But in the case I cited, all I need the inventories for is serial number tracking. I could have done it in tables in Word or OO Write and achieved the same result.

mikael_grindbo
mikael_grindbo

Good points. One other issue that connects to the part about the data. One hallmark on data quality is the concept of single-source. I.e. a set of data should only be stored in one place. This is some kind a "mantra" in my company. Product data should only have one origin. After that is said, people go back to creating tables in excel. If they want a different print-out - they just copy the data from one tab to the next. And, yes excel can be quick to build a prototype for something. But in my opinion it can also be a very quick way to corrupted data. As for speed though it may be quicker to create a table in excel access is not that far behind. When it comes to collaboration the database application excels :-) Letting five persons updating an out of the box excel worksheet at the same time is not that trivial. Access allows for some collaboration, but one should note there is an upper limit to how many persons and how complex applications are used. Access is also rather performance-sensitive to poor network performance. The thing I really like about a database is that you normally separate the data and the application, the GUI. Thus you can manage backups better. It's also easier to present the same (physical) data in multiple ways (e.g. portrait and landscape reports). Also you have much better capabilities in data-checking it's difficult to do sums on text - then it's of value if the application can require a specific data-type. (can of course be managed in excel through code - but where did the simple application go?). While it may be beyond a "simple" table the number of record possible in an excel table is quite limited. Access accepts far more records before reaching file-size limits. And though we are extremely entangled with one specific company, on a "spiritual level" one might replace the brand-names with database and spreadsheet. Different brands of spreadsheets are much closer related than pc-database-applications.

kevaburg
kevaburg

The post title: A CRM is not a database Third paragraph: A CRM is just one type of database Is it a database in your eyes or not? A database does not look like anything! It is nothing more than a repository of data that can be queried and manipulated if and when required. And data quality? That can be achieved using check constraints, primary and foreign keys, data validation rules etc. The user, in a well designed database solution, should not necessarily have to know how to use the database product, just the application that has been created using it. You continual requirement for people fully trained in the product and not the application that has been created using it has just driven your companies operating costs up and through the roof. And training people to care about data quality? Do you train people to have pride in their jobs? They either do or they don't. The whole point of developing complex applications tailored to a companies needs is to take out, as far as is reasonable practicable, the margin of human error introduced when people are involved with data input. I use Access, Oracle and MSSQL in a multitude of environments and the majority of the arguments you have come out with are moot when the database has been created by someone that knows what they are talking about.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

A small group of us get together to discuss a problem. The solutions is to track the use of A, B and C and how it relates to D. We all agree it would be great. We discuss how this should be implemented. We forget the KISS principle and throw in the kitchen sink. Someone, usually me, sets up a small database thru Access or some other application. No matter how good it sounded in the meeting, when it comes to actually recording A, B and C, "It's too complicated!" If only 1 out of 4 people fail or refuse to record the data, the output becomes meaningless.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There's no possibility of anyone outside the IT department using it. If I'm out, the file stored in a network share accessible to the entire department. The sort macros are accessible from labeled buttons in cell A1. As to untrained users, it's going to take a lot less training to figure this out than MS SMS or similar management tools! I toyed with Pivot Tables but I haven't been able to figure out how to structure the sheet. All I need to know is how many times a person selected each driver, and be able to format it in a simple report (column headings are player names, row labels are driver names, cells are how many times a person has picked a driver). I may take another look at PivotTables during the off season.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

but for me it is simply faster to use a spreadsheet. Both for data entry and for the impromptu calculations you may need to do. If a project turns into two or more related tables, then I consider moving it to Access.

ESchlangen
ESchlangen

I think what you really mean is application development costs. There is very little database management in MS Access beyond the occasional compact and repair. The power of Access is the ability to build the database and the application in one environment. It doesn't have the power or speed of the big boys like SQL Server or Oracle that have associated big management costs. But Access sure beats Excel's data querying and organizing abilities by a whopping big margin. And what about the costs of having all your data in Excel where it can't be easily found and/or organized in the ways that Access makes so easy? Many of our employees, most of whom are engineers that should be at least somewhat computer literate, use Excel and then we end up importing the Excel sheets into Access or SQL Server because they can't get the information that they need in the format that they want from Excel.

kevaburg
kevaburg

What command-line functionality do you want? I can type my SQL statements directly into Access and make it do what I want. It has a restriction on the database size (2GB) but most small organisations don't see as a huge problem. I really don't understand your description of Access being "too heavy and too large to use it for small, everyday tasks". It's what it is designed for!

kevaburg
kevaburg

A lot of developers scoff at Access as not being a real database solution but I have created some really productive environments using it. Several times I have had to migrate these to MSSQL but that was pretty painless. There does seem to be quite alot of animosity towards Access and to be quite honest, I am not entirely sure why.

kevaburg
kevaburg

Everything you want to do can be done in Access including your charts. I think you should be using charts and PivotTables in Access to be honest and then create a simple application to use it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is to impose some rules so the data you get out of it is useful. How easy and how comprehensive the rules are to describe and impose, coupled with some 'trivial :p ' efficiencies in making use of them is the real question. My big qualm with access / excel is that the people most likely to use it are the least able to define those rules. We've all been around long enough to know what an unholy mess we get lumbered with when the application out grows the amateur who 'designed' it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I have several flat table inventories, one for each of my stores, and a couple more for parts inventory and parts lists. There might be 25 tables total, with most having only 100-120 rows and the largest at about 500 rows. I'm not interested in relationships, I'm not interested in analyzing it, all I want is that it's there. Why should I fire up Access?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

There are many things it can't do and even more it shouldn't. A decent sized CRM being one of them.... People who know it's limitations and work within them are a lot rarer than arses, doing a compact repair again, because they thought a multi-user high volume high transaction robust RDBMs could implemented in single file on a mapped drive.

staffordd
staffordd

Hi I think using an "out of the box" solution is not necessarily as clever as many here seem to think it is. OK, if you have a specific scenario, like a CRM or client info - then maybe it does make sense to buy a dedicated package (that costs a WHOP load more than Access does). But how do you KNOW Access can't do the same things - if you haven't tried it? I've used it for some really convoluted and complex processes, and it worked beautifully - in cases where there IS no "out of the box" solution. And, an "out of the box" solution has limited ability for user config - again, in Access, if you LEARN it, and are not lazy - you can configure it the way YOU need - NOT the way Act, Goldmine or Maximizer "think" you need. By the way, I used Goldmine for a while, as did my programmer brother. What an absolute piece of _ _ _ _ . I'm sorry, but at least in the first year or so, that's one of the most inflexible, useless products I've ever been forced to work on. Give me Access any day over Goldmine. Because...*** I *** am in control. Now, for the other comments, what do "lesser users" do, when you are away on holiday??? Have you ever heard of "training"? I trained an entire team, which eventually ended up being about 30 people, to work on a very large, very complex Access product database. NONE of them had ANY prior Access experience. ALL of them learned it quickly, and were able to work with absolutely no supervision (besides perhaps choices about the actual DATA) from me or anyone. If you build your process clearly enough, anyone can learn it. If you slap it together in 10 minutes, and then walk away and expect people to be able to follow it - well, you are lame whether you are using Access, Excel or ANYTHING. Excel falls down EXACTLY the same way - if you haven't trained people, and you go away - they WON'T know how to work your complex worksheets and macros and linked sheets and vb code. Will they? So across the board - Goldmine, Access, Excel - there is a responsible way to set up processes, and train staff, so you don't have problems when the designer is away. Or, there is the stupid way, which admittedly a lot of people do it - built it, and then walk away and don't train or support it. That's just plain stupid, regardless of what it is. Please don't single out Access as if it's the only app that will fall down if you are on holiday. Even a process in WORD can fall down if folk aren't TRAINED properly. I think...that sometimes off the shelf, out of the box software makes us lazy and soft. Just push the buttons. LET THE MANUFACTURERS DECIDE WHAT I WANT. And personally, I don't want that - I want to decide. I have to do the work. I want a process that does what I need - NOT the Goldmine way, MY way. And Access gives us that, if you will take the time to learn it well. This is of course, all opinion - not meant as criticism in any way. Enjoy d.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I've used real CRM software, back when it was still called a database. Compared to client management products, Excel and Access fall flat on their faces. I want to track and schedule client visits./calls, email, files sent/shared, scheduling etc. I current;y use Access for basic data collection, but I can't use it as a 'database' to manage a client base from it just doesn't cut it compared to some of the out of box solutions, like Act, Goldmine, Maximizer etc.

kevaburg
kevaburg

Another case of an inappropriate solution! Far too many people overestimate Access even though it is a good application.......

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

A good deal for those who insist on using it for critical business apps without knowing where it's weaknesses are.