Managing Large Data
Small businesses, departments in larger businesses, and other non-business organizations often have software needs that are not met by over-the-counter products. There is a need to track complex information not easily managed by spreadsheets, accounting programs, or personal information managers.
Business data usually has two components that contribute to complexity:
- Large amounts of data that needs to be available for retrieval and modification
- Hierarchical relationships between the data (for example, a salesperson has many customers, each makes many orders, and each order includes numerous items).
Businesses often attempt to solve this complexity using spreadsheets, but quickly find that they are unwieldy, because they are not designed to handle the basic operations of inserting, editing, deleting, and querying records. Relational database management systems were designed to manage large sets of records, and have been the main tool for managing computer data for the past 30 years.
Spreadsheets, which are designed for “what-if” scenarios (for example, if the price per unit is increased, how does the profit change?), are not very effective in managing hierarchical relationships.
Relational Database Software
Accounting software, like QuickBooks or Peachtree, is usually designed to manage business hierarchies, but is limited to accounting information and not other types of data. There is a need for software that can be configured to allow easy entry and management of complex information, with features that maintain data integrity by insuring that the relationships between data sets are kept intact and not corrupted by user errors, typos, or misspellings.
Users also need comprehensive reporting, with filtering capabilities and group headings that reflect the hierarchical organization of the data.
To solve these needs, relational database systems are designed with tables and fields that are organized to match the real world relationships between business entities. Database software can then interact with this data using the capabilities and controls provided by the database management system.
Unfortunately, writing programs that interface with relational database systems has historically been time-consuming and expensive. Only large businesses have been able to afford the in-house staff to develop business systems that utilize powerful systems like Oracle. Off-the-shelf products have been available using these systems, and in many cases they can serve the needs of a business, but only if there is a good match.
With Microsoft Access, the low cost of the tool spares some expense, but Access programming is too complicated for most power users and requires professional programming skills. The Access development environment provides a development platform for creating the user interface forms and reports needed to work with relational data. By creating software components that can be re-used throughout an application, feature-rich programs that solve a customer’s needs are possible for a fraction of the expense of the high-end relational systems.
In order to make the Access solutions even more cost-effective, common features are shared across all the database software provided by Sunburst Database, such as the opening login screens, user administration, contact management, report and export filtering, and broadcast emailing. To allow variations in these features for specific customer needs without revising the basic program, configuration interfaces allow system administrators to fine-tune the programs.