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Can you recommend a program?

Discussion in 'Business Applications' started by Jayburne, Oct 30, 2003.

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  1. Jayburne

    Jayburne Thread Starter

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    A large part of the company I work for's business is telesales for want of a better word. Names are sourced through various means in order to contact them initially via phone. I help maintain, what we call, the database which is an 8 headed column list.

    Since this list is simply a list, we use Excel as there are no relationships between lists reqd. It also helps in it's simplicity since all levels of pc skills come walking thru the door with staff turnaround. I also use ASAP utilities which is an enormous help in standardising the data input. I'm happy to continue using Excel but the "user" problems it gives me, I'm just so fed up spending hour after hour straightening it out (I know, get the users straightened out first - in my dreams). The 'sort', 'find', 'filter' etc are ok for me but to others, they're obviously blind since when checking to see if a name they have sourced is on the list, more often than not they don't see it. Again I know this is a user problem, but it's a consistent one over the last 3 - 4 years that makes me wonder if Excel is the best program.

    Since some staff have walked off & sold our list, I've placed it on a non-networked pc. I try and maintain an 'a' drive password protection via the bios. I try and maintain a modify password to stop people saving changes but sometimes, time doesn't allow and it maybe a few weeks before a problem is spotted (just found all the "T's" have been removed from 16,000 forenames). The list is added to at least twice a week and once a month, I take it home with me to 'clean it up'.

    So, is there a program especially suited to such a list, that offers setting up levels of security/access (easily), simple but effective search criteria (eg not just by Surname), is very portable (both OS's and file size), has the kind of 'fix' remedies ASAP utilities provides in Excel (eg delete all leading/trailing spaces, make selection Capitals), allows formatting of cells (eg not 20.10.2003 but 20.10.3 for a date).

    At the moment, since the file is not networked, it only needs to be viewed by 3 pc's, but with the right program, it could go back onto the network (would need copy & paste function restricted and copy file).

    I'd welcome any ideas or suggestions. I did begin to try it with an old Lotus Suite package, but that took me back to relational, forms etc and the list didn't transport well. It also wouldn't import for some reason and so would take a lot of time to enter. The look up/search was much better offering "sounds like" etc options.

    I look forward to your feedback, comments & suggestions.

    Jayburne
     
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  3. Anne Troy

    Anne Troy

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 1999
    Messages:
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    Jayburne:

    The program you need is called Access.
    The only thing it won't do "automatically" is the ASAP utilities functions. However, they could be created by any decent coder for a minimal amount of money.

    Click the link and contact me if you want some *real* guidance.
     
  4. Jayburne

    Jayburne Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2003
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    Hi Dreamboat

    Thanks for the speedy reply. I keep looking at Access and what turns me away is it would mean moving the 'list' into a relational database instead of just a 'simple' spreadsheet kinda format.

    Since most of the problems caused are via 'users', what benefits do I get, getting my head into designing a relational database when all I've got is a (very long) list. Will it pick up stupid typing/spelling errors when searching individual records? Will it allow extensive drag & copy? Will it allow me to make a column info different over say 1000 records (change one field only) and then just place all those records back seamlessly? Or will I have to begin making rules etc. Does it allow me to make extensive 'save as' to be able to work back if problems?

    Since the current Excel file changes it's name with each update, I've an extensive back up of files so when something goes wrong, I can work it back to when it was right. I can't keep creating an Access dbase so as to have this. Plus, I don't need to have the 'database' set up on the different machines in order for it to open.

    To make this move, there'd have to be some great benefits in it since I'm only making a 'list of contact details' requiring no relationships, in a relationship database software program.

    Just for info, the data is pretty static in so much as it remains the same unless new data for the name is found, which is then updated where applicable. If there is no new data (ie cannot contact the name), the data is deleted. This is done by each 'telesales' person submitting an excel sheet with 'updates' that is then pasted into the main file and sorted (and 2 further columns added with ref to the update and a marker). The changes can then be made. Does Access work the same way as Excel in this matter?

    If using Access (and please tell me if I'm wrong), I'd need to design a template for each pc (it's not a server network) to allow such updates to correlate with the main Access file. With Excel, this isn't needed. They just open a new file and follow the main file column headings. I could see the need to use Access if I was using more than one list and the office used a server system. I'm not though!

    So Dreamboat, what makes Access easier to use than Excel when I don't need relationships? I know from your other postings, you're very knowledgeable on Access and in my limited relational database experience (DataEase), Access would be a heavyweight for a lightweight job.

    I look forward to your views, Jayburne

    ps I went to the link
     
  5. Anne Troy

    Anne Troy

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    11,744
    it would mean moving the 'list' into a relational database instead of just a 'simple' spreadsheet kinda format
    It does NOT mean that you have to use those relational capabilities at ALL. :)

    and please tell me if I'm wrong
    You're wrong.

    Sorry...I meant go to the link and click on the contact page, and get a hold of me by phone or email if ya want.

    Seriously, if you're here in the states, I'd love to walk you through a few quick steps to show you the benefits:

    1. No scrolling!!!
    2. EASY lookup by ANY field you want.
    3. EASY form you can make, everyone can use.
    4. Discuss easy ways to keep users out of certain areas. For instance, want a user to "delete" a record, but not really wipe that record from the DB? Done. But you cannot do that in Excel without some VBA to hide the row, right? Yuk!! EASY in Access.

    I'm NO Access guru at all. That's what's so great. What do you think is behind, for instance, the cash register at Sears? Just a DB with an easy user interface. The detail of the DB doesn't matter, right? It's what the user sees. In your case, the detail of the DB is EXTREMELY minimal, so you get the best of both reasons to switch.

    Want to know WHO changed John Smith's record last? And when? This stuff can be tracked (or you could start tracking it two years from now) without ever having anyone do anything to enter that stuff. The system could do that itself with a little tweaking.

    Want to restrict accessing more than one record at a time so your DB cannot be sold? Yep. That can be done too. Want to see all the records entered today? That's a click of a button to see a query on the screen or report on paper. The nice thing is when you do something like this in Access, you don't have to put it BACK so you can enter data again...you just click on the form to enter data again.

    You should be calling me so I can snuff all your pre-conceived notions that Access is hard, let me walk you through doing a down and dirty DB with you (10 mins or less), and then show you a couple of quick ways you can make it VERY cool.
     
  6. Jayburne

    Jayburne Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    24
    Hi Dreamboat

    I'm in China. It's late now so I'll look more at Access and email you over the w/end. There's more to it and I don't want you to go down the wrong road.

    Night, Jayburne
     
  7. Jayburne

    Jayburne Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2003
    Messages:
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    I've spent time over the weekend getting the excel list into Access, creating the table and building a form. Then using help, I've tried to recreate what I need it to do and although I'm sure with time & perseverance I'd get there, the people who I need to use this correctly for it to work, have neither.

    The following are just a few things that I can't automatically do and so they'd be completely lost:

    use zoom (out) AND work within the sheet/table (only allows in print preview)
    use multiple cell drag & copy (appreciate that maybe setting up a filter to pull out the required data etc etc, Excel just does it)
    use more than 1 undo i.e. over multiple records/cells
    have multiple text colour coding
    highlight so many cells within a column and or row & column (for any reason/change)
    easily sort (not filter) by 3 headings (not just A-Z)
    easily filter without the need to set up filtering, type of filter etc etc
    easily and visibly attach comments to relevant cell (edit & delete)
    easily zip, split, copy, move, email the entire list without having to preselect formats and or update the recipient pc.
    easily standardize incorrectly input data (changeable/variable)

    Basically, when I look at just the above, put Excel next to Access, I really need something very simple, no set up requirements, pretty much dummy user friendly that easily and quickly allows the above and more to happen and Access isn't the answer for this project.

    The one thing Excel doesn't do is stop the file from being copied/deleted/abused (and I'm not talking about the save options).

    Anyone have any other program ideas?

    Jayburne
    (regards to Dreamboat for your help)
     
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