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How to See the Biggest Return from Your Microsoft Access Database

A lot of businesses use Microsoft Excel to manage their data, but they don’t know what they are missing by not upgrading to a database! Spreadsheets may look similar to databases, but a spreadsheet is not nearly as powerful as one. Plus, getting information in and out of a spreadsheet is often tedious and cumbersome. A lot of manual data entry is required, and this raises the risk for errors.

If you are looking to upgrade from Microsoft Excel to Microsoft Access, you’re making a great choice that will allow your business to be more secure and efficient. Below we share a few tips on how to see the biggest return from your Access database.

MS Access is user friendly. You can use it without having to learn a programming language.

Microsoft Access is available with your Office subscription, and you don’t need to learn a programming language to use it. Access is considered a non-technical database application that is user-friendly for the average person. In fact, you can use it to create apps without needing a background in coding.

We recommend diving into Access and testing out the features to get you familiar with the differences between a database and a spreadsheet. But, don’t spend time trying to learn a new programming language. This is not necessary to use the basic functions of Microsoft Access.

Use only the number of tables that your application requires.

There is no “right” number of tables that you need in your application. Use the appropriate amount – no more, no less. Beginner database users have a tendency to use too few tables and end up trying to cram too much information into a single place. On the other hand, some users create dozens of databases, when they really only need a few.

Avoid repeating and redundant data.

Another thing you’ll want to avoid is repeating data in a single table. Relational database design handles repeating data by breaking it out into a separate table. So, if you find yourself numbering field names like Item 1, Item 2, Item 3, etc., create a separate table to store the data.

The same is the case with redundant data – avoid it! Redundant data doesn’t need to be in your database, and it can actually corrupt your data. For example, if you have a customer’s name stored in two tables and only update one of the tables, the data is no longer reliable.

Use a naming convention to avoid confusion.

When you pick a naming convention for your database objects, you should stick with it to avoid confusion. This way, all database tables, columns, constraints and other objects will be named in a consistent and reliable manner. The good news is that you can choose any naming convention you want (within reason) – the key is to be consistent.

Use nulls only when you need to.

Nulls are often overused. The true purpose of using null is when a field of information is truly unknown. This is different from a field that needs to be left blank. As an example, when filling out the Address 1 and Address 2 lines on a table, the Address 2 line is usually left blank. But, “blank” is a known value, so you don’t need to put null.

Consult with a Microsoft Access consulting expert.

Lastly, make sure that you have a Microsoft technology expert to consult with. As your business grows and changes, your database needs might as well. It’s important that your database is always working for you and providing you with secure, consistent data. By partnering with a team of database experts, you can get the most value from your database.

Arkware provides Microsoft Access support and replacement services for businesses of all sizes. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your database needs.

7 Strategies to Get the Most from Your Meetings

If you had to guess, how much time do you think you spend in meetings each week? According to this article, middle management spends an average of 35% of their time in meetings, while upper management spends as much as 50% in meetings. The worst is when you spend all this time in discussions and they prove to be ineffective. Meetings are here to stay, but there are ways to make this time more productive.

Here at Arkware, we spend a lot of time in meetings with clients and each other. It’s important that we offer the best database solutions and meeting together is one of the ways we achieve this. Here are the strategies we use to keep our meetings most productive.

1. Know When to Host a Meeting

Before calling a meeting, we make sure that it’s the best way to solve a challenge or address a concern. If an email or memo will get everyone on the same page, then we will send this instead. We want our meetings to be a valuable use of everyone’s time.

2. Schedule Meetings at the Right Time

We schedule meetings at times when people are less likely to be distracted. Friday afternoons – definitely not a good time to hold a meeting. Research shows that meetings held during lunchtime when people are hungry and distracted are also less productive, so we avoid these times as well. The best times to hold meetings are between 9-11am or 2-4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

3. Invite the Right People

Not everyone needs to be at most meetings. Only invite staff who will benefit from the discussion, such as those who have something to contribute or will be affected by the topic of conversation. Everyone else can use this time to work with clients and complete other tasks.

4. Create an Agenda

Before the meeting, create an agenda and timeline. Share it with the people coming to the meeting so they know what to expect. Having an agenda allows everyone to follow along and stay on topic. If the topic does go sideways, don’t be afraid to jump in and bring the conversation back.

5. Choose a Comfortable Location

We’ve noticed that a comfortable location helps people stay focused in meetings. Choose a bright, well-lit space with comfortable seating so that people aren’t uncomfortable for the next half hour. It’s also a great idea to have a whiteboard or projector screen for everyone to look at during the meeting.

6. Keep Meetings Short

It’s better to have several short meetings than one long meeting. People get bored and distracted when sitting in the same seat too long. Plus, this cuts into the time they could be doing other tasks. Keep meetings to around 30 minutes, if you can.

7. Avoid Lecturing

Remember that you are holding a meeting, not a lecture. So, avoid lecturing and boring your audience. A meeting is a time for everyone to talk, exchange ideas, voice their concerns and more. Leave time for everyone to contribute, which is why it’s important to choose who you’re inviting carefully.

If your business requires meetings, there are ways to make them more productive for you and your employees. By following the strategies above, you can make this time valuable for everyone in the office!


How the Healthcare Industry Uses Databases

Microsoft Access comes in handy for many industries, including healthcare. In fact, healthcare is one of the top industries that relies on databases to identify patients, manage lab results and track billing and payments. The amount of healthcare data continues to grow, and databases offer a reasonable solution to keep track of it. Once information is entered into the database, the documents can be shredded, helping medical offices stay in compliance with the latest HIPAA laws.

Ways Databases are Used in Medical Facilities

There are dozens of uses for databases in the medical field. Microsoft Access is able to handle most of them with no flaws. By entering data into an Access database, it’s collected in an analytic format. This way, medical professionals can better understand the data and offer patients better, more efficient care.

Let’s look at some of the ways that the healthcare industry uses databases.

  • Lab systems
  • Financial systems
  • Patient satisfaction systems
  • Patient identification
  • Billing and payment processing
  • Practice management system
  • Ambulatory surgery
  • Claims database
  • HR system

What Challenges Do Databases Solve for Medical Offices?

Databases solve a number of challenges for healthcare facilities. Specifically:

  • Data quality. It’s hard to make sense of overwhelming information. With a database, data can be entered into the system and organized in a way that’s practical and sensible. When you need quick, reliable information, it can be searched for, compared, analyzed and more.
  • Collaboration. Databases make it possible to collaborate with others. Multiple users can look at the same database and exchange ideas, address an account, etc. However, not all users need to have the same access. For example, multiple users can be on the same sheet but only one will have authorization to make edits.
  • Security. Data security is a major concern for healthcare facilities. Having a reliable, secure database is an effective way to keep information safe. Paper documents can then be shredded, keeping in compliance with HIPAA laws.

Healthcare organizations have endless ways to benefit from using a database. To learn more about databases and how they can benefit your medical office, call Arkware today. We’re happy to help and find the best solution for you.  


How to Get the Latest Features in Office 365

Do you remember when software programs were available on CD and couldn’t be updated until a new program was rolled out? Today’s software is far better in this department, as improvements, changes and glitches can be repaired with a new update rolled out to all users. However, depending on your organization’s settings, you may see Office 365 before or after another group.

Let’s learn more about how to get the latest features from Office 365.

Who Gets Office 365 Updates?

As new features roll out to Office users, many are introduced slowly. Eventually, everyone will have access to the features, but the times they become available vary. If you don’t have the features that another company has, don’t worry. Instead, expect that they will be coming to your device soon!

The reason why people get the features at different times is partly based on how they are released and partly based on the organization’s settings. So, if you have a work or school account, your administrator probably controls when you see the features. Unfortunately, if you only have a one-time Office 2016 purchase, you will not see any new features. You will, however, receive security and performance updates to keep your software secure.

How to Get New Features

Usually, updates are automatic, but you can install them manually as well. To keep on top of new features, we recommend joining the Office Insider program. This program keeps you abreast of the latest advancements with Office 365 and when to expect new updates. Otherwise, Microsoft is vague about its updates because they are rolled out at different times.

You can also learn about the new features that are included with each update by checking out this page. It’s a good idea to do so, as many of these elements sneak past people until they actually use them. For example, the latest update included security updates for Access, Outlook and Office Suite.

If you have a database programming company to work with, you can also learn about updates through them. At Arkware, we keep on top of the latest trends so you don’t have to. We’ll make sure your database always has the latest technology and features. To learn more about how we can help your databases run smoothly, call Arkware today.


How to Use the Compact and Repair Command in Access

A key benefit to using databases is their ability to grow to meet your needs. However, the more changes that are made to the database, the greater the risk of it becoming corrupted or damaged. This can occur from any number of actions such as writing, reading or processing. As scary as database corruption can be, there are ways to prevent and fix these problems.

Included with Microsoft Access 2016 is the Compact and Repair Database command. We’re going to teach you how and when to use this tool for your own Access databases.

Why Corruption and Damage Occurs

As files grow larger, they have an increased risk of becoming damaged. This happens because the database receives new data and information. For example, Access sometimes creates hidden objects to accomplish certain tasks. These temporary objects might remain in your database even though Access no longer needs them.

Another issue that can happen is when deleting a database object. The disk space the object filled may not be reclaimed. While a few temporary and deleted objects may not be a big deal, an excess can cause problems over time. What you may see is that queries take longer to run or your database takes longer to load.

Decreased performance is never easy to deal with, but corruption is especially unsettling! No one wants to lose precious data. Data corruption is most likely to occur when a database is shared over a network and multiple users work within it. While you probably won’t lose your entire database over data corruption, it’s possible to lose some of it.

When to Use Compact and Repair

If you open a database that has been damaged or corrupted, you will be prompted to use the Compact and Repair command. We always recommend making a backup first.

  • Compact on Close. The Compact on Close database option lets you automatically compact and repair a database when it closes.
  • Manual run of Compact on Close. You can also manually run the Compact on Close option. This can be run on both open and non-open databases.

One word of caution: the compact and repair process can disrupt other users. If you plan on running this operation, let others know so they can avoid using the database at that time.

The Compact and Repair Database command is a great tool that comes with Access 2016. By understanding when and how to use this tool, you can address potential database problems early on – and save yourself a lot of headache.


What is the True Value of Bringing Microsoft Access into Your Organization?

Small-to-mid-size organizations have hundreds of computers around the workplace that are responsible for delegating certain tasks. These tasks can run on their own without needing the IT department to complete them. This setup allows your workplace to run efficiently, increasing productivity and decreasing downtime.

One of the most popular software programs used to enhance productivity is Microsoft Access. It has the same look and feel as other Microsoft products, which is why businesses that use Word and Excel also tend to use Access. The learning curve is small and the data can be shared. Also, both spreadsheets and databases may be created by end users to streamline day-to-day tasks.

The benefits of using Access for your organization include:

  • Most widely used desktop database system in the world
  • Reasonably priced compared to larger database systems
  • Can be ported to SQL Server for future upgrades
  • Offers support and development consultants
  • Uses comprehensive programming language, VBA

Ensure Well-Built Databases

While it’s convenient to run software programs independent of your IT department, there are issues of security, reliability and scalability to consider. Does the end user have the appropriate training and experience to build a secure, reliable database? Some databases are simpler in nature, but others require the knowledge and expertise of a programmer, system administrator or database expert.

Although end users aren’t always qualified to create a database, this is more of a rarity. Most end users are successful creating databases with tables, forms, reports and queries. To help, templates are available. Plus, giving end users this freedom and flexibility allows organizations to preserve resources. It’s not necessary to have all databases custom built by a professional.

In the instance that the database does outgrow its creator, an upgrade is the next step. SQL Server is a natural progression from Access, as the original design, queries, forms, reports, modules, etc. are changed. Once the data is in SQL Server, new functionalities become available, such as Visual Studio and .NET. These programs can be used to create Windows, web solutions or mobile solutions.


Microsoft Access is a true asset to your organization. To get the most from the software program, only end users who are comfortable building databases should do so. This saves company resources and allows you to upgrade to SQL Server at a later date. That said, some databases need to be built by a professional database expert like Arkware. This ensures that the database is reliable, secure, scalable and manageable.

For a free consultation to discuss your database needs, call Arkware today.