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Expert Advice: Best Small Business Options for Choosing a Database Management System

The purpose of a DBMS (Database Management System) is to keep the business's data organized, easily retrievable and secure.

Database Management software comes in many different forms, one example being a CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

So how do you know if your business needs a DBMS? And if you do, how should you choose the right one?

We consulted experts to bring you solid advice. After all, your business revolves around data. Your data is your gold.

Does your business need a database management system?

Here are a few signs suggesting you do:

  • You have to check multiple places to find your data. This creates confusion, wastes time, burdens employees and complicates reporting and may even increase costs.

  • You struggle to bring up data in your current systems which means it’s probably overloaded.

  • You’re using legacy software that may not be supported.

  • Your current system doesn’t support data from important channels.

Database management system options

Which options do small businesses have?

  • Excel spreadsheets (not recommended because they can’t grow with your business).

  • MS Access (a good option).

  • No-code database builders (best for small businesses who generate a lot of data; does not require an expert to use the software - check out the DataGrows Database Builder).

  • Databases that perform specific actions, like CRMs - an example is DataGrows CRM and Practice Management software for accountants.

  • Software developer customized solutions (too expensive for a small business), unless your business model depends on a DBMS.

How to choose a DBMS

A long-time programmer recommends small businesses not use Excel because it will “absolutely not grow with you, and you will have to expend resources later to migrate your data.”

He suggests small business owners first understand precisely what it is they want to accomplish with a DBMS because there are already good software solutions that can perform the most common data solutions, such as a CRM.

He recommends that unless you want to highly customize your software, it may be better to try a pre-made package that performs a certain function you are looking for.

Richard Morris, M.A. in Management & Quantitative Analysis, says that choosing a Database Management System vendor should involve a combination of requirements analysis, performance comparisons, and ease of use.

Art Kagel, with 39+ years of Database Design and Database Administration experience, has helped several businesses select the right DBMS, and here are his recommendations:

Gather the following to get a good idea of what the DBMS will need to provide to be the right fit for your business:

  • Data requirements

  • Performance specifications (aka SLAs)

  • Features needed

  • If it needs to integrate with other software, you are using

  • Data security requirements

  • Data redundancy, disaster recovery, and data backup requirements

  • If necessary, transaction processing requirements

  • Data volume requirements

  • Transaction volume requirements

  • Number of concurrent users and/or connections

  • Access requirements

  • Preferred platform compatibility

Art also recommends that you match up any proposed database systems to the above specifications and filter out any that cannot fulfil all the necessary requirements.

The next step is to work out the Total Cost of Ownership for each proposed database system that remains in the running.

Not only must you consider the cost of the software, but also the indirect related costs to bringing the software on board. For example, the cost to redevelop existing applications that will not work with the new system, the cost of developers, the cost of training, the cost of upgrading to future versions as the business grows, and so on.

If the info seems overwhelming…

We would like to suggest you get in touch with us to discuss how we can simplify things and how the DataGrows Database Builder or DataGrows CRM can help you achieve your goals.



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