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Is Microsoft Access Still Relevant in 2020?

With so many different databases – Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL – you may be wondering if Microsoft Access is still worth using these days. The Access database application was first launched in 1992. At the time, it was considered an innovative application at an affordable price. Today, things have changed. Powerful databases with endless features can be downloaded for free. So why use Access in 2020? 

Believe it or not, the reasons for using Access are plentiful. Below we’ll cover why Microsoft Access remains relevant and useful for small-scale needs. 

It’s comfortable and familiar for most users. 

Here at Arkware, many of our clients use Access because it’s comfortable and familiar. Even people with little technical experience can use Access with no problems because it mimics the look and feel of other Microsoft applications. It also doesn’t require any special hardware or custom applications, and it can be used as a front-end to another database like SQL Server. 

It supports multiple users at one time. 

Another reason why Microsoft Access is still relevant is because it’s portable and flexible. Although it’s sometimes thought of as a single-user database, Access works well with multiple users. In fact, it’s a multi-user platform by default, supporting at least 200 users simultaneously. Users are able to copy and move data, which is helpful when starting new projects or replicating the database to other locations. 

The database has a long-standing reputation and track record.

Even though some people claim that Access is dying, this is not the case at all. It remains one of the most popular relational databases, and many of our clients won’t use anything else but Access because of the perks mentioned above. With over 25 years in existence, it’s safe to say that Access has reliable technical support and a strong community. 

It’s cost-effective, especially for small businesses. 

Microsoft Access is a very affordable database solution. This allows businesses with small budgets to utilize a powerful database at an affordable price point. You can purchase Access with Microsoft 365 and also get premium versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others, along with services like OneDrive and SharePoint. 

So is Microsoft Access still worth it in 2020? 

The short answer is, yes, Access is very much worth using. However, it’s not the best database solution for all projects. This is why it’s important to have a database consultant like Arkware. It’s possible that you may be ready to upgrade to another database like Microsoft SQL Server for improved security, performance and growth. To learn more about your database options, contact Arkware today. 

5 Uncommon Microsoft Access Tips for 2020

Whether you’re building an Access database for the first time or learning to work within a custom-built template, it helps to know the ins and outs of how the program works. There are many Access tips available online, but today, we want to focus on tips that are useful but rarely shared. The more you know, the easier it is to manage a successful database.

Below you’ll find five uncommon MS Access tips for 2020.

1. Keep Access database fields as small as possible. 

As you build tables, make your text fields only as big as you need them. By default, Access sets up text fields to hold up to 255 characters. This is a lot of space that you probably won’t end up using. To avoid having all this wasted storage space, make your text fields the appropriate size. 

2. Use number fields for real numbers. 

Use number fields for real numbers, not for text numbers. For example, zip codes do not go in number fields. Software programs perceive a 60609 zip code differently from the number 60,609. The numbers in a zip code are digits, but they aren’t to be used for math and other numeric purposes. So, leave the number fields to numbers you plan on calculating.

3. Carefully delete Access field values. 

Whenever you delete field values from a table, use caution. The reason for this is because you can’t recover the old value if you need to. Once you start doing other things, Access will forget about the value as if it never existed. Unfortunately, there is no Undo option available for an entire record. (Note: If you delete a value and realize you need it before doing anything else, you can do a quick Ctrl + Z.)

4. Backup your databases.

Backing up your database is extremely important. You can maintain backup copies at another location in case something happens at your place of work, such as a fire or flood. You can also store your backups to the cloud so they can be retrieved later. Here’s a great article on how often you should be backing up your databases and why it’s so important. 

5. Ask for help – it’s not hard to find.

One of the great things about Access is that help is easy to find. As the most popular database in the world, you can find support online or from an Access programming expert. The important thing is that you ask for help when you need it. Small missteps can add up quickly and cause huge problems for your database down the line. 

Microsoft Access remains a reliable database program for businesses of all types and sizes. If you need help managing your database, contact Arkware for a free consultation. 

How Real Estate Professionals Can Use Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access has a number of templates that are designed for real estate professionals. You can use the template that is included with Microsoft Access or download one created by a third party. The benefit of using templates is that you can organize and manage your data without having to create a database from scratch

For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the Real Estate template that can be downloaded directly within Access or from the official Microsoft website. This template allows you to manage your properties, buyers, sellers, prices and other information. 

Where to Find the Real Estate Database 

Go to the Real Estate template on the Microsoft Office template downloads page and click Download. Or, launch Microsoft Access and find the Real Estate template under the Business templates. Once the template is downloaded, you can open it on your computer and start entering data. 

The best way to start filling out your database is by clicking New Property and adding your first property. Include the property ID, type, street address, city and state. We also recommend clicking Email List in the toolbar so that you can keep track of your contact list. Successful realtors keep their contacts nurtured. 

Tips for Using a Real Estate Database 

Successful business owners know that their clients are their most important asset. The same is true for your real estate business. Plus, it’s important to know that your relationships with clients don’t end when a home is bought or sold. It should continue on so that you have easier prospecting, qualified referrals and repeat business.

Here are some tips for using your real estate database. 

  • Connect with existing customers. It’s easier and cheaper to sell to existing customers. By keeping an updated database of your clients, you can begin the nurturing process. For example, are you having an open house? A pumpkin decorating contest? 
  • Gather new prospects. Realtors are often so busy working with current prospects, they don’t look for new ones. Fortunately, your website can gather leads while you’re out showing properties. A data-driven website collects user information that is then pulled into your database. 
  • Be a resource. Set up monthly or quarterly events so that people can come to you when they are interested in buying or selling. These events also keep your name front and center so that you can retain customers and increase referrals. Send event info to the contacts in your database. 
  • Send housing market updates. It’s also helpful to stay in touch with contacts by sending them updates on the housing market. Most homeowners are happy to see what’s selling in their neighborhood. Plus, by sharing this info, you will become a trusted authority in your local market. 

Databases are a huge asset to real estate professionals. Microsoft Access is a great program to start with, as it’s easy to learn and familiar to most people. To have a custom real estate database created for your business, contact the database experts at Arkware. 

5 Reasons Microsoft Access is Great for Startups

Are you launching a new business? Good for you! This is an exciting time, though it may feel overwhelming until things get up and running. As you get closer to opening your doors, everything will need to be in place. This includes the database you plan on using. The good news is that Microsoft Access is an excellent database tool for startups, and you may already have it included with your Microsoft Office subscription. 

Here are five reasons why we recommend MS Access to startup clients. 

1. Affordable cost. 

Access is very affordable and comes included with an Office 365 purchase. You can buy Office as a one-time purchase or pay a monthly fee. By paying monthly, a few extras are included, such as security and compliance, support and deployment and file storage and sharing. Whichever option you choose, Access is not a major price commitment. At least that’s one thing out of the way!

2. Quick and easy database setup.

Thanks to the wizards and templates included in Access, you can set up a fully functioning database in just a few weeks or less. It depends on how elaborate your database is and if you plan to connect your website to it. With less time involved in the setup, you can put your time towards other business tasks, such as marketing your new business and driving in foot traffic. 

3. Lots of support available. 

Microsoft Access has been around for a long time. It’s one of the most popular database platforms in the world, making it easy to find support. Whether you have a simple question or need to update your current database, you will be able to find help. Also, because Microsoft Office and VBA (Access’ programming language) are so widely known, support services are cheaper as well. 

4. No coding experience required. 

Speaking of coding, you don’t need a background in code to use Access. However, we do recommend having some basic knowledge of Microsoft Office and database creation, as this will help you build a smart and intuitive database. The good news is that you can hire a database company for a reasonable cost. From there, you can use the database without problems. 

5. Scalable. 

Lastly, Microsoft Access is scalable. Access has a reputation for being basic, but this isn’t necessarily true. Many large businesses use Access with no problems. However, if your business grows to store thousands of files, or you need hundreds of people to access your database at a single time, you’ll need to upgrade. Luckily, you can migrate the data to SQL Server. 

Access is an excellent database tool for startup businesses. If you need help getting your database ready for launching, contact Arkware today for a free consultation. 

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!