The best friend of people who are not IT professionals, but suddenly need a relational database to be mastered, designed and implemented by yesterday!
Updated December 20, 2018

The best friend of people who are not IT professionals, but suddenly need a relational database to be mastered, designed and implemented by yesterday!

Fred Abraham, P.Eng | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft Access

I utilize Access databases frequently, ignoring 'weird looks' given to me by IT professionals who consider anything less than Oracle not a true database, but some sort of a 'toy'. However, Access fits the bill perfectly in some cases. Back in 1996, I had to resolve a problem very quickly, by creating a 'tool' to keep track of problems encounters by buyers from the procurement department in ordering certain parts, like parts for old designs and currently unavailable due to obsolescence, or parts having an unacceptable long lead time. The need was for a relatively simple and small database, allowing recording of such problems, recording of the progress made by the Component Engineering department in finding a solution and the recording of the solution itself, when one was found. I selected Microsoft Access as a platform, since it appeared relatively simple compared to more powerful databases, and my proficiency in other members of the Office suite making the learning curve shorter. And it worked very well. The implementation took only three weeks and the results were very much appreciated by its users. I believe this database it is still in use.

  • An Access database can be designed and put to use rather fast, in order to answer an immediate need, even if the design must be done by someone with no previous exposure to Access. It can be modified/improved later on, without much impact on the users.
  • A relatively simple Access database does not require knowledge of any programming language. It can be implemented by using 'macros', which are of a 'point-and-click' type.
  • If a more complex application is required, Access is fully compatible with Visual Basic for Applications language, which is a object-oriented, even-driven programming language, designed by Microsoft specifically for utilization by all modules belonging to the Office suite.
  • Since the commonality of VBA across Office, Access databases can be made to interface with other Office applications, and in particular with Excel.
  • Access is easy to master, cheap, and allows easily the construction of aesthetically pleasing interfaces with the user, while remaining quite powerful. Due to these reasons, it yields itself to be sometimes used for the design of non-database applications, but specialized calculators.
  • It cannot accommodate as many records or as many concurrent users an Oracle or similar database can.
  • It is not as reliable as a database of 'industrial strength' is.
  • It does not work fast, particularly when when large amount of code was used for its design or when a relatively many users attempt to utilize it simultaneously.
  • On my first experience with Microsoft Access, the database I created answered a very specific and urgent need: support to Purchasing Agents (Buyers) which often encountered difficulties in procuring certain parts, due to obsolescence. Since these parts were required in order to complete contracts signed with various clients, a lack of solutions meant inability to deliver goods, therefore loss of revenue. So, the impact of the database which I successfully designed and implemented was highly positive.
  • An attempt initiated by me in order to prevent obsolescence by taking a proactive approach, as opposed to a reactive one, went not so good. My idea was approved and I designed and implemented the Access database required by my approach. However, no further progress was made, since beside the database, additional manpower was required on a daily basis. Since no funds to support this daily activity could be found, the project was abandoned. Therefore, it should be considered as having a negative impact, since my time spent in designing the database was a loss.
  • A mini-project was fun, successful and highly appreciated by users. A certain department needed identifiers for reports written in Word, according to a certain scheme, involving date and serial number of the memo in that specific year. I was requested to design an Access application which will keep track of the identifiers, open programmatically every new memo submitted to me, generate and insert a new identifier as per the rule, save the Word document and return it to the originator. Here, the impact on the company measured against my time spent on the project was positive.
  • The implementation in Access of a specialized calculator, designed to verify the match between the size of certain components, as recorded in my company's documentation, and the sizes indicated in the datasheets provided by actual manufacturers of the parts worked very well. I will consider it as having a positive impact. Again, it worked well and users were very satisfied.
  • To conclude, I would say that the utilization of Microsoft Access was beneficial to my company at the time, as long as requirements were well defined and funding was provided adequately. I would add that most of the benefit was achieved when Access was used on 'small caliber' taskings, and not so successful when more ambitious results were anticipated.
I intend to elaborate very soon via another update, after checking some of my notes.
I do not have experience with any other database having capabilities and cost similar to Access.

Microsoft Access is very suitable whenever the objective of the project is a database where:
1. The timeframe of the project must be short and the start of the project must be immediate.
2. Specialised personnel from IT department is not available, due to their own prioritization scheme.
3. The designer tasked with the design, implementation and deployment of the database, is a technically-oriented person in general, but having no previous knowledge of Access in particular.
4. The size of the envisaged database is relatively small, both in the number of records to be stored in it, as well in the number of concurrent users.
Microsoft Access is not suitable when:
1. The requirements are for an 'Enterprise' type of database, expected to acummulate over time a very large number of records (large manufacturing company, storing many parts numbers over the years).
2. The database is expected to be access by a very large number of users concurrently (e.g., a bank, accessed by numerous customers simultaneously).
3. The time taken by the execution for each transaction must be as small as possible.
4. The database must be of 'industrial strength', meaning very reliable, with no crushes and no corrupted records.

Using Microsoft Access

23 - Access was introduced
by myself around 1997, as a solution to an immediate problem,
affecting the Planning Department, Procuring Department and Component
Engineering (myself). Standard parts procurement was initiated by planners,
via the creation of Purchase Requisition Requests for specific part
numbers and quantities. The requests were passed to Procurement,
where buyers were issuing ‘Requests for Quotation’ to part distributors. Some
time, the RFQs were returned stamped with a 'NO BID' inscription on them,
meaning: 'This part is obsolete'. In such cases, a document called 'Problematic
Part Investigation Request' (PPIR) was issued by the buyer affected and sent to
Component Engineering (myself) for resolution. Up to my arrival in Component
Engineering, the PPIR forms were filled by hand on a paper form. A
number was assigned to each PPIR and entered by pencil into a notebook,
sometime in error... The PPIR was then sent to me via inter-departmental
snail-mail. Faced with this situation, I saw as my first priority not to
resolve any specific case, but to create a 'tool' capable of:

1. Standardizing the generation of PPIRs

2. Ensuring timely transmittal of the problem to Component Engineering,
therefore allowing an early start of the requested investigation.

3. Ensuring timely transmittal of the solution found to the buyer affected.

Evaluating Microsoft Access and Competitors

Microsoft Access Support

Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response

Microsoft Access Reliability

Integrating Microsoft Access

  • Chronologically, the first integration was between ACCESS and WORD. My efforts in developing an ACCESS database as a tool used by Component Engineering were well known to my superior, which was also in charge of the Material and Processes department. This department needed some automation for the generation of memorandums, issued in WORD.
  • I integrated ACCESS and EXCEL several times on different projects, since they blend very well together. ACCESS is a very efficient tool for the rapid construction of aesthetically pleasing 'screens' (or forms, as they are called by ACCESS itself), while EXCEL is very good for mathematical calculations.
  • I integrated ACCESS with OFFICE itself several times, with ACCESS being the 'main engine', while OFFICE providing a folder/sub-folder repository for various items, such as engineering drawing or component specifications, stored as ADOBE files (.pdf).