Frequently Asked Questions

Why would I need to implement a database solution?
Why would I consider a custom application?
How much data can a Microsoft Database hold?
How many simultaneous users can Microsoft Access handle?
When is Microsoft Access Recommended and Not Recommended?

Why would I need to implement a database solution?
There are many reasons why you might want to implement a database solution e.g.

  • You have complex data management needs
  • You need to improve your cash flow situation
  • You want to get invoices out as soon as possible after the work is performed
  • You need all of your staff to have access to the same information at the same time
  • You want to integrate many business functions into one application
  • You do not want billable staff to spend inordinate amounts of time tracking hours
  • You need to improve the accuracy of client, customer and service records
  • You want to reduce labour costs by automating repetitive and re-occurring tasks
  • Your customers and clients are requesting greater accuracy or specialized invoicing
  • You need to track multiple factors simultaneously
  • You need instantaneous reporting based on real-time data
  • You need to streamline processes and functions critical to your organization
  • You need better client, customer, service and management reporting tools
  • You are tired of having to enter the same data in multiple locations
  • You need to ensure that what you bill out is firmly tied to what staff enter for payroll
  • You are considering expanding and want to keep operating costs as low as possible
  • You need comprehensive service information to justify funding or seek financing
  • You want to reduce the endless hours required to pull together information for reports
  • You are tired of having to wait for days and weeks for reports
  • You need to have a bird's eye view of what is going on in your organization.
These are just a few reasons why you might want to implement a database solution. Most relate to saving time and money or improving efficiency.

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Why would I consider a custom application?
If you find pre-packaged computer or a web based software which seems to meets your needs and is within your price range, then it may be that you have found an adequate product. However, if the pre-packaged product does not meet requirements critical to your organizations success, then it is time to consider custom software.

Sometimes 95% of a solution is just not good enough and custom software is required.

You must also look closely at the pricing structure of off-the-shelf software. Licensing for pre-built applications is usually based on a combination of factors such as the total number of installations, users, locations, customers or clients and monthly or annual fees.

Conversely, a custom application has a one time charge. You pay for the development and you are free to use it within your organization regardless of the quantity of users, clients, customers, etc... This can be a considerable cost savings to your organization in particular as you are adding users, locations, etc.. Most importantly, a custom application is built just right for you and your organization.

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How much data can a Microsoft Access Database hold?
One Microsoft Access Database file has a 2 GB storage capacity. Based on many years experience building and seeing Access Databases in action, the 2 GB storage capacity is more than adequate to meet the needs of the majority of small to mid sized businesses and organizations, and departments within larger corporations.

Furthermore, you can work around the 2 GB limitation by using a split database. When you split a database, you reorganize it into two files - a back-end database that contains the data, and a front-end database that contains all the other database objects such as queries, forms, and reports. A front-end database file can point to many back-end database files, each of which could be as large as 2GB. Keep in mind that one Access Database file can easily handle a million records with 30+ fields or columns.

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How many simultaneous users can Microsoft Access handle?
This is what Luke Chung, a recognized database expert and highly regarded authority in the Microsoft Access developer community, has to say on the topic.

"The number of simultaneous users Access can support depends on what's being done; 50 is generally considered to be a reasonable number...

Simultaneous connections actually refers to concurrent processes i.e. users accessing the database at exactly the same time. As such, Access can actually handle more than 50 users, as long as those connections remain under the process limit.

Read-only sites (which really aren't as rare as you might think) can support up to 255 users e.g. users viewing reports or queries."

To view the complete article, go to

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When is Microsoft Access Recommended and Not Recommended?
Generally speaking, the use of a custom database application is usually not warranted, nor is the expense typically justifiable for organizations with fewer than 4 staff and having simple data management requirements. Furthermore, Microsoft Access is not suitable for large organizations who wish to implement a corporate wide database solution.

It is however, an excellent solution for small workgroups or departments, and small to mid-sized businesses and organizations. MS Access is packaged with Office Pro and above, it functions well in both single and multi-user environments of up to 50 concurrent users, it can be accessed remotely for organizations set up for remote access. Most importantly, it allows for rapid and inexpensive development, by comparison to systems used by larger organizations, while still providing essentially the same functionality and cost savings!

The above only provides a brief examination of issues relevant to your decision making process. For a more thorough discussion and analysis of Microsoft Accessís capabilities and appropriate uses, please refer to the following article.

Database Evolution: Microsoft Access within an Organizationís Database Strategy
by Luke Chung, President of FMS, Inc.

Luke Chung is a recognized database expert and highly regarded authority in the Microsoft Access developer community. Luke was featured by Microsoft as an "Access Hero" during their 10 year anniversary celebration. Luke is a popular speaker in the US and Europe, and has published many articles in industry magazines. He is also a former president of the Washington, DC chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (YEO), and a graduate of Harvard University with Bachelor and Master Degrees in Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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