Has your Access database outgrown the original purpose? If you answered yes; would you prefer a Band-Aid fix or upgrading to a better and powerful database technology? While a Band-Aid fix might cost less now; in the long run costs can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars in terms of lost productivity and opportunities.
Why Access is no longer enough
Microsoft Access is a powerful tool that provides users with a desktop database and a programming language with the familiar Office interface. Access has been one of the most preferred database systems, however with new technologies being introduced; it is time to shop around for a more versatile and scalable system that not just grows with the company but also delivers better ROI.
Take the example of one of the most common applications most organisations need – a client/contact management system. Companies can use Access to develop the solution or else choose the latest Microsoft offerings – Dynamics CRM & SharePoint. While Access-based application serves the purpose, it brings along some inherent limitations; the major one being Access database’s susceptibility to corruption. Additionally, Access database can be easily copied, removed or deleted posing a threat to data security.
Every time a new type of report is required, Access developer needs to intervene. With shortage of Access developers in the market; companies are likely to shell out a higher per-hour-rate for qualified and experienced developers for every Access related task. Organisations need to navigate all these hurdles for an efficient and functional Access-based application that may or may not be scalable.
Hence unless your company is does not expect to grow and/or your objectives is expected to always stay the same; it would be a good idea to look for alternatives.
Top 10 reasons Microsoft CRM & SharePoint is the best alternative
As a team of Microsoft-certified consultants we have seen our fair share of ‘Access’ disasters. We have also helped organisations of all sizes migrate or rebuild their Access applications with SharePoint serving as the frontend and Dynamics CRM being the backend/database. The benefits of these two leading Microsoft technologies is well known; as such let’s look at the top 10 reasons for moving from ‘Microsoft Access’ to an alternative Microsoft Platform.
- Web-based system: By using SharePoint and Dynamics CRM for company-specific applications; users have a web-based front-end platform that eliminates the need to install the solution at individual workstations. A web-based front-end provides better cross-platform and multi-device application access allowing; more concurrent users to work on the application without disrupting application performance or affecting staff productivity.
- Mobile friendly (Android, iOS native apps exist for CRM): The current digitised world calls for mobile friendly applications; the same applies to Access-applications. Entering or editing records in Access-based mobile applications is frustrating in addition to not having access to real-time data. Android and iOS native apps exist for Dynamics CRM offering offline access to mobile data out-of-the-box; making it a better choice for businesses where staff need to use mobile devices.
- Flexible data hierarchies: Businesses that have multiple units and/or deal with multiple projects need to maintain separate Access database for each business entity. Maintaining and managing multiple Access database is cumbersome and time-consuming. Both CRM and SharePoint have a flexible hierarchy structure that allows you to run these multiple business units simultaneously while maintaining data security.
- Enhanced data security: By building the application on CRM and SharePoint platform; configuring user level restrictions and permissions for safeguarding company information is simple and straightforward. Security can be applied on a document, a field, a record or an entire form.
- Out of the box auditing: Dynamics CRM and SharePoint both maintain user change logs making it easy to track back changes and revert if required. It is almost impossible to delete company data without being discovered. Automated backups also make it easier to recover lost data.
- Performance: Access database’s performance is inversely proportional to the number of concurrent users. As the number of users increases, the performance gets affected. SharePoint and Dynamics CRM are known for their ability to handle large number of users with no effect on performance or data security.
- No more database corruption: As we have stated earlier, Access database is prone to corruption caused due to an interrupted power supply, hardware failure, virus/malware attack or incorrect usage. These factors do not affect the normal functioning of Dynamics CRM; saving time and money required to repair/rebuild the corrupted Access database.
- Powerful workflow engines: CRM and SharePoint has a powerful workflow engine that allows administrators to use wizard to build event and time based workflows for easy automation and increased staff productivity.
- User configurable dashboards: Access developer generates custom reports. With Dynamics CRM and SharePoint however, report generation is easy and straightforward with users able to create their own custom dashboards and report based on individual requirements.
- Integration with key business solutions: Dynamics CRM and SharePoint offer out-of-box integration with a large number of commonly user business solutions such as accounting and ERP packages. This in turn enhances efficiency of operational processes by eliminating the need to manually import and export data from one system to another. Additionally, CRM Online and Office 365 support out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Power BI allowing you to start building reports.
As a company matures and grows in size, the number of issues and problems will also rise. As a result; solutions that may have previously worked may no longer be viable and/or cost-effective. In order to stay competitive; organisations need a multi-faceted platform such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint to support their growth and help uncover hidden business opportunities.
The latest Microsoft product – Dynamics 365; is combining Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX solutions into one unified cloud platform; providing organisations to digitally transform their business and reap greater productivity benefits. With more than 82% of businesses expected to migrate all their business operations to cloud-based systems by end of 2017; cloud is no longer an option. The sooner businesses get on the cloud bandwagon the better.
If you too have applications based on Access and would like to stay one step ahead of your competition; contact the Empower IT Solutions team to learn about how we can help you gain the upper hand with Dynamics CRM and SharePoint.
Blog Update: Microsoft has launched Dynamics 365 – a platform that unifies CRM and ERP capabilities into applications that work seamlessly across different business divisions. The best option for Access users looking at migrating to CRM would be Dynamics 365 with Office 365 integration. Contact us to know more about getting your Access-based application developed in Dynamics 365.