ms access databases

MS Access Databases: Make the Move?

Once upon a time…

MS Access databases were everywhere!

In fact, Microsoft Access databases are still used in lots of small-to-medium businesses because the applications developed years ago still work.

The obvious question then is…

If your MS Access application still works,
why would you change anything?

Because old technology – even if it’s technically FREE – isn’t really free. The costs are just hidden. We covered this topic in our article about the Care and Feeding of Custom Software.

In a nutshell:

  • You’re missing out on modern efficiency gains.
  • You may be creating risks – especially in the areas of security, upgradability, and supportability

MS Access has many great features.

We’ve built many applications in Microsoft Access over the years. We liked MS Access because:

  • It’s inexpensive (the license is FREE) and requires no special hardware to run.
  • It has a graphical interface, which makes it easy to use.
  • It’s an easy all-in-one simple solution, including extra features like a built-in form creator and report writer.

On the downside… despite Microsoft’s upgrades to the product, MS Access is unsophisticated and unwieldy compared to other options available today.

  • It’s not very scalable. It’s doesn’t work well with more than about 10 concurrent users and can’t handle high-volumes of data or complex algorithms.
  • Data security can be problematic. Role-based security features have been removed from the application.
  • It’s not web-friendly.
  • Most software developers don’t want to work with MS Access databases.
  • It’s difficult to connect to other small business software solutions and SaaS offerings. There’s no API connectivity.

Microsoft Access has been around for more than 25 years now. It’s had a great run. But in our opinion, it just can’t compete with newly developed web-centric solutions.

Before switching to another custom software application, the first step is to see whether a small business software application already exists that would meet your needs. When one doesn’t exist, we’ve had several clients move off of MS Access to Django.

Their typical reaction is “Why didn’t we switch sooner?!”

MS Access Migration Examples

Client 1: Needed better software integration between QuickBooks & CRM

This client had created a customer relationship management (CRM) system in MS Access. All their financial information was in QuickBooks. The problem was that they couldn’t get a full picture of the client. When the client called in to request additional services, employees couldn’t see that they had a long overdue unpaid bill. We built a custom application for them that gave them real-time access to customer history, without requiring extra QuickBooks licenses or logins.

Client 2: Needed to run on a non-Microsoft platform, specifically Linux & Apple

This client had Linux-based thin clients in their shops, and wanted employees to be able to quickly look up information through iPads. Moving from MS Access to Django made it possible so they could login to their application from any web browser.

Client 3: Needed mobile integration with a cloud-based small business software solution (SaaS API Integration)

In this case, the sales team would touch down in a city and want to be able to find the best clients within a radius of their current location. Their MS Access database was only accessible from the home office. Printing lists and maps was ridiculously inefficient. With the new system, they can create route maps to better plan their sales day. They can also integrate with Microsoft Word and Office 365.

Other clients have moved off of Microsoft Access because they have too much data or too many users.  One of the best reasons for working with Eclipse Consulting is that we don’t prescribe THE answer. We ask the right questions to help you get the best answer for YOUR business.

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