Microsoft Access definitely has it’s place in the business world (as all Microsoft products do).
There is a huge and potentially very expensive pitfall for business owners that we want to talk about.
First, let’s focus on the positive aspects of MS Access.
It’s quick and easy to create a database system for a start so Access is a cost-effective option for small businesses far and wide. It will help you to store and manage information for reference, analysis and reporting. It can help you to keep track of your clients and ensure you maximise the potential of data as you grow.
Great, so what’s the down side?
While a spreadsheet program like Access is fantastic in many ways, it can quickly transform from being an asset to your small firm – to becoming a threat as you begin to scale your business.
If you are using Microsoft Access with its internal database, it’s vital that you back it up regularly.
Due to the limitations of the platform, this means that you have to plan a ‘maintenance window’ when everyone stops using the system to take the backup. More often than not, this is done ‘out of hours’ but there are often occasions where downtime happens while people are trying to work.
Microsoft Access databases can become corrupted quite easily. This could be caused by power, hardware or a network failure. Your Access database can also be corrupted if a user reboots their PC with the Access system running. It really is that fragile and easy to break.
Once your access database is corrupt, you’ll need to restore a previous backup. You need to be aware if you’ve been entering customer transactions or other data all day and your Access database becomes corrupt at 4.30 in the afternoon, the restoration will wipe out all data that has been entered that day.
If you have paper copies, the entries can be re-placed manually. It’s a time-consuming process… but at least you have the data. If you can enter the data in the exact sequence any transaction numbers (for orders, invoices etc) will be correct, however if you cant replicate the entry sequence exactly (and this is almost impossible if using multiple workstations) and transaction numbers given to customers will no longer correlate to the newly entered ones.
If you update your system from information received personally or via telephone and there is no paper trail, that information is lost permanently.
To avoid getting into this nightmare scenario you should use a database platform such as Microsoft SQL server. MS SQL Server uses client-server and batch transaction processing technologies that prevent database corruption.
A lot of business owners don’t realise this, but you can use MS SQL Server as a back-end database with your MS ACCESS front end (the screens & reports). So there is a relatively cost effective way of upgrading your system to ensure that it’s more robust and reliable.
A temporary solution without cost would be to close down and backup lunchtime therefore you reduce the risk to just losing half a day’s data.
And if you’re thinking ‘there must be a better way’ you’d be absolutely right.
We’ve dedicated our expertise to help businesses avoid these problems and are available for a FREE consultation to discuss what we could do for you.
Get in touch for a no-obligation discussion. We’re looking forward to introducing you to new ideas & ways of working that will streamline your business and reduce costs.