Why Have a Bespoke Database?

Are Your Business Processes Holding Back Your Business ?

That’s the non-creative work you have to do, between contacting the Client and getting your money for a job well done… which gets worse the bigger the business gets.

For a small company, finding the customer, setting out their requirements, obtaining the materials, building the product, arranging delivery and producing an invoice can be handled by one or two members of staff.

As the workload gets bigger, you need more staff. Staff need to be trained, paid and they occupy expensive office space. And these extra staff are not directly contributing to your bottom line.

So your company’s efficiency slumps and profits fall.

What Often Happens Next

Companies may automate many of their business processes by either buying an off-the-shelf package or using a series of spreadsheets to, for example, keep track of customer orders.

This is a partial solution…

A Bespoke System Tailored to Your Business Needs

Our database systems are designed expressly for your business, ensuring almost all processes are automated and flow naturally from one situation to the next.

They simplify office work and allow staff to have all the information they need to complete a task in one place.

Designed to be multi-user, so several people can input or find information at the same time, the systems we develop send out e-mails, interface with MS Word, Outlook and Excel. Primarily using Microsoft Access, we also design systems using SQL Server.

We often recommend Access Databases . Many people say – “Why Access, aren’t there more powerful alternatives such as MySQL an Open Source Database, Oracle and SQL Server?”

The difference between these and Access is that Access is a comprehensive environment for producing a Database System complete with Queries, Forms, and Reports.

Oracle, MySQL and SQL Server are engines that store the information. To produce a Database System with these it is necessary to harness them to Webforms or Windows Forms and to Crystal Reports for the reporting functions.

Because development of such a system is far from quick or simple, these Database Systems tend to take far more time to develop and therefore cost more than an Access Database.

Access Limitations

The restrictions of Access Databases are that Access does not work well with a large number of users all using the system at once and its baseline storage capacity is limited to 2 Gb (over 2000 Million items of data) .

A third limitation is that Access was designed for Desktop use (ie not in a Web Browser). This can be a drawback if you need to connect to Company Data wherever you are wherever there is an internet connection. However, using a Remote Access connection it is possible to use an Access database on any device which can be connected to the Internet directly or using Wi-Fi.

For a small or medium sized company, these restrictions are unlikely to cause any problems and if so, there are several well documented ways round these limitations.

Access Advantages

A major advantage of an Access Database System is Access’s ability to link to other Microsoft Office components such as Word, Excel and Outlook. Form or Mailmerge letters can easily be produced in Words generated from Access . Mailmerge Emails can be generated from Outlook using Access in a similar way. Excel charts can also be directly produced from Access and Access Reports can be exported to Excel for further analysis.

Linking to Other Databases

Access has a unique ability to link to data in other databases including MySQL and SQL Server via a system called Open DataBase Connectivity (ODBC).

Access Tables can simply be exported to the new system which gets over both the restriction of limited simultaeneous users and storage capacity.

This means that Access Forms and Reports can remain unchanged and the database system work exactly the same way as with the original tables.

Using Access over the Internet

The third restriction is rather more difficult to overcome as Internet Forms are very different to Access Forms. Internet Forms use HTML to lay out data and up to now, there is no way of duplicating an Access Form precisely in HTML.

Microsoft has tried to get round this in the later versions of Access using Sharepoint Server Technology. However this means that forms must follow a prescriptive layout and there are no Reports as such, only screen snapshots. To date, Sharepoint server and Access have not been happy bedfellows.

A Hybrid Solution

This does not mean it is not possible to share information over the Internet. The system that Bluebird Software have developed uses MySQL stored on a Web Server (in the Cloud) for table storage. Each user, when they log in connects up to this database. The only disadvantage is that Access software needs to be installed on each machine connected to the Internet.

Using this technique, it is also possible to use Web Forms as well for some additional functionality.

We have used this technique with CRACS and CoreReports to allow users to see the results of Surveys over the Internet. Access is used to edit and post new surveys where each client can view only the surveys that are applicable to them.

Database Systems Grow…

So is Access the best way to start? We think so, unless sharing information over the Web is paramount, in which case a MySQL/PHP website may be preferable. If you have a project in mind, please ring or email us for advice.

Working from Home – Or From the Office?

Bluebird Systems using Azure SQL Server Back End are designed to work from any location where there is an Internet Connection.

Many of our customers are attracted to the following features:

  • Customised Emails individually tailored to each Client with attachments also customised.
  • Royal Mail Postcode Search – To ensure your letters, invoices and staff have the correct address.
  • Easy data transfer to and from Microsoft Excel
  • Automatic secure backup by Microsoft on the Cloud

We can install these features to an existing Database or as an add-on to any of our databases described.

Key Benefits

A Bespoke Database System can ensure that the time spent administering your business is kept to an absolute minimum and also provides that the facts and figures you need to run a business are instantly available.

So, plumbers can plumb without worrying about paperwork and the overhead of employing non-productive staff such as secretaries and administrators is kept to a minimum.

A Custom Database system can also take a snapshot of your business at any time and give an overview of its performance:

  • Who is working on What?
  • How much money do we have tied up in stock
  • Do we need to hire another member of staff – or have we got too many?
  • Can we pay next month’s wage bill?
  • What is the value of the Work in Progress?
  • Has stock gone missing from the shelves?
  • Can’t I buy Something off the Shelf?

There are many packages available but these are either overcomplicated with facilities your business does not need or they do not go far enough. Although the initial purchase price of an off the shelf item can be low, when special stationery, training, the cost of a helpline and the hidden cost of having to upgrade every couple of years are factored in, a custom or bespoke database system can be much better value.

The advantage of a Bespoke Database System means that your business can make money without you being present every working day.

When you come to sell your business, the Database System will often be the deciding factor. Why? Because the buyer knows that he has not just the premises, and the staff but also a system that generates money for the business.

Key Applications

Record bookings & job sheets
Generating letters & sending emails
Sending SMS messages to phones
Summarising data & produce reports
Linking to your accountancy systems

Case Studies

Carpet Retailer
Track Orders to Provide Outstanding Customer Service

When looking to re-order, for carpet suppliers using Bluebird software, its effortless.

Insolvency Practitioner
Track & Analyse Client Time to Optimize Efficiency

Used to keep track of client time and then calculate the cost based on the Fee-Earner rate.

Chartered Surveyors
Tracked, from initial enquiry to the final invoice

Create job sheets, record bookings, email invoices and send text messages all linked to your accountancy system.

Looking to upgrade your system?

Many businesses have a computerised system in Excel or Access that no longer does what they want.

We can develop your existing system, so that it now meets your needs.

If you have a system that needs an update
perhaps due to Government Legislation or changes in working practices
we can help.

Specialists in solutions for Carpet Retailing, Insolvency Practices & Process Tracking

Specialists in solutions for Carpet Retailing, Insolvency Practices & Process Tracking