One of the most common questions I am asked is why exactly should I replace my spreadsheets with a central database. Here are 10 good reasons:-
1. Sharing information – With a spreadsheet (or even word document), only one person can access the data at any one time. However with a central database, more than one person can look at the data simultaneously
2. Elimination of multiple data entry – ever wondered just how much time you waste by copying and pasting data between documents ? With a central database, as all data is stored centrally, there is no need to copy data – saving you all this time
3. Improved data quality and consistency – As all data is stored in one place, it means that everybody uses the same data rather than different variants e.g different spellings for somebody’s address
4. Effective version control – One of the problems that I see regularly in organisations is that people get confused between various versions of documents. Using a well built database, it means that everybody can easily see the latest version of a document
5. More robust security – In many companies, there is a need to keep certain data restricted, whilst other data can be readily shared. These sort of privileges can be tricky to maintain – especially when there several hundred documents. In a database, every user has their own logon credentials meaning that it is far easier to manage access rights to information.
6. Mobile devices – with a bit of thought, a database can be designed so that it fits neatly onto a mobile phone or tablet. Further, information can be exchanged in real time between the database and the mobile device – so your mobile workforce can see up to date information in real time
7. Faster reporting – Management need accurate information to make decisions more effectively. Often the data for this comes from several sources meaning that it takes time to assemble. With a database, the report production can be automated – saving time.
8. Drill down capability – with an excel spreadsheet, if we wanted to drill down e.g : see all the orders placed by a given customer or all the items that on an order, then it is not easy to present this information. However, in a database you can achieve this functionality very easily.
9. More sophisticated layouts – in an excel spreadsheet you can only place information in specific cells or rows. However, with a database it can be placed in a manner that you choose, meaning that you can bring together data in a much more meaningful manner.
10. Click through capability – with a database, you can click on a piece of data and follow it through easily e.g:-
- Click on a customer and see all his orders
- Select one order and see what items have been purchased in an order
- Take one item and get a description of the item
- Identify other orders that contain this item – across all customers
- Get reports about when and how often this item is purchased
- Use this information