Simple cheap database software?

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  • Simple cheap database software?
  • cbike
    Member

    Filemaker Pro or do it in the cloud with Zoho or something similar? I built our stock and PAT testing database in that in 10 minutes based on a template.

    These both look good. Which one did you use?

    At work we’re trying to manage orders more efficiently by replacing our excel sheets, whiteboards and pieces of paper with some kind of database. A while back we looked into advanced software to tie together everything (accounts/inventory/orders) but the prices were crazy (literally thousands).I remember years ago messing around with HyperCard on Macs, and something like that (which is sadly no more) would be perfect.

    We just want to create a virtual sheet per order with specs and customer details on, have a way of moving that through the various stages of production, and then filing it in a customer database once it’s been shipped and received. Ideally it would also generate parts lists for the jobs and help us manage stock inventory. I remember using dedicated DOS-based systems for manufacturing in the mid-90s so it’s not exactly rocket science but every time we research this we get lost in the excess of options…

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

    chewkw
    Member

    The Filemaker Pro looks a bit like Microsoft Access or I am missing something?

    clubber
    Member

    So you’re planning to go into the business software market?

    I’d really suggest getting a proper, reliable package. Sage can be quite reasonable.

    When I was last looking at Sage the variant that did everything we wanted cost £10k! I’m confused by the rest of your response Clubber…

    chewkw
    Member

    No need to go into those expensive software if you don’t need them.

    Filemaker Pro looks good or even Bento which is part of Filemaker’s family.

    Check youtube for details.

    mrmo
    Member

    What do you need it to do? Constructing a Database sounds so simple, but to create a good reliable one takes a good understanding of database design, a good understanding of what you are actually trying to do and what you can make software do.

    You could create something using Excel, PHP, Mysql, MS SQL express, etc. but who is going to do the coding. Even more user friendly apps such as Access and Filemaker once you get beyond very simple forms soon need someone who can code.

    Basically the requirement is just like a niche bike frame builder would need if he supplied complete bikes and sold direct to customers and wanted to manage the build progress from customer order, cutting, welding and painting a frame from scratch, and then building it up with parts into a complete bike. So order management, production planning, stock control and in an ideal world the VAT and management accounts. It would be nice to be able to show customers an online order progress page too. At the moment we’re doing all this with disparate manual systems but it’s getting too hard to manage!

    clubber
    Member

    for all that, a reliable (don’t underestimate how critical that is – I’ve seen companies go under when they realised that their system had been telling them the wrong numbers),functional, efficient, supported by more than one individual who wrote it system for £10k it’s pretty reasonable when weighed up against cost to develop (considering the above again) and support.

    If it’s £10k or whiteboards and excel we’d have to stick with the latter.

    chewkw
    Member

    £10k is very expensive unless you run a multi-million pounds business.

    Otherwise, use a very simple system but keep the customers up-to-date using email. Yes, hard work but then you are in control.

    clubber
    Member

    that may be the best option then.

    my background is in the sort of software you’re talking about and I wouldn’t fancy devrlopping it from scratch particularly if you’re wanting to do accounting on it. I guess that the point I’m making is that you need to really consider the risk and time it’ll take to develop and work out the true costs.

    chewkw
    Member

    clubber – Member

    that may be the best option then.

    my background is in the sort of software you’re talking about and I wouldn’t fancy devrlopping it from scratch particularly if you’re wanting to do accounting on it. I guess that the point I’m making is that you need to really consider the risk and time it’ll take to develop and work out the true costs.

    ERP is not all good to be frank because once you buy a module you get suck into buying another module, and by the time you realise it’s not really what you want you would have spent so much it makes no sense.

    There should be a market for ERP for SME at “Chinese” price.

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    You may find a bit more excel knowledge could help, but even then excel doesn’t have the ability to do the other bits you want.

    You’re talking a custom designed bit of kit really which wouldn’t be cheap.

    Premier Icon nickdavies
    Subscriber

    Basically the requirement is just like a niche bike frame builder would need if he supplied complete bikes and sold direct to customers and wanted to manage the build progress from customer order, cutting, welding and painting a frame from scratch, and then building it up with parts into a complete bike. So order management, production planning, stock control and in an ideal world the VAT and management accounts. It would be nice to be able to show customers an online order progress page too.

    Doesn’t sound cheap and simple to me! If you’re asking on here about this then you definitely don’t want to be going down the path of doing your own thing with accounting stuff. Mistakes there are costly. A good compromise might be sage line50 which will take care of the important stuff relatively cheaply, and then working on a database system like filemaker using ODBC links to sage to build the rest up. Benefit there would be you can slowly add to it over time. You could have all the basics in Sage, then use the database to hold the extra parts details, requisitions etc for customer orders, print picking, job sheets etc and reports to see what jobs are in what stage etc.

    You could also fairly easily get it to give online order statuses.

    I’ve used these systems before to give decent results on a budget, but it gets very tedious.

    I don’t want to develop the software from scratch! I just want to lay out a bunch of database pages and then generate reports from them! For customer updates we’re using a combination of uploaded excel screenshots and emails. I know manufacturing isn’t big in the UK but I’m perplexed that there’s so little to cater to small manufacturers.

    clubber
    Member

    depends on the product. some include all modules whether you use then or not.

    regardless, if you don’t understand what you need before buying then maybe you need to think about the way you deal with salesmen 🙂

    clubber
    Member

    I’m perplexed that there’s so little to cater
    to small manufacturers

    how small is small?

    ime small companies that want to be well run don’t consider £10k to be excessive but maybe we disagree on what small is.

    Maybe it’s just the way my brain works but it seems like this is what computers are made for but clearly watching videos of cats is a greater 21st century priority for accessible software development…

    Tiny! There aren’t even enough of us for a relay team!

    clubber
    Member

    the trouble is what you’re asking for isn’t simple. at least not to develop, test and be confident it’s reliable so that you won’t get sued because it goes wrong…

    it’sa bit like people not understanding now a bike can cost more than £100 when you can get a full susser for 70 quid!

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    You’re also talking about manufacturing where in the most people who develop a small manufacturing business don’t care so much about IT.

    atlaz
    Member

    There are lots of software gaps in the market. I ended up writing a simple workflow based purchase order system for work because everything was either a dressed up excel spreadsheet or overly complex. Knocked it out in a handful of wet weekends in early “summer” and it basically does the job (we’ve yet to have an audit though so that will be the big test).

    Just to be clear though, I have nearly 20 years experience of writing software of various types so I wouldn’t say you could learn and knock the software up yourself. That said, if you have a proper specification and are willing to take a punt, some of the freelance websites will be worth a go.

    clubber
    Member

    but then may well not be around if things go wrong or you want changes made …

    chewkw
    Member

    IMO investing in expensive software is not necessary unless you are so disorganised that you let things go wrong.

    Software is there to support the main business and not to hinder by creating another headache. However the more you rely on software the more headache you have because the IT experts will hold you to ransom.

    To customers communication is king so all those bell and whistle mean nothing if the seller cannot deliver. Bear in mind many of the Far East SME competitors hardly use ERP system or integrated system and yet they manage their books nicely.

    boxfish
    Member

    Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition for Small Business will provide the functionality you need. It retails for around £500. If your total budget is <£10k, you’ll need to learn to use it yourself (unless you know a particularly generous/cheap developer).

    EDIT: Although that may not fit the remit of simple and cheap.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    Open ERP – http://www.openerp.com/products?

    There are other open source / subscription options available.

    mrmo
    Member

    thinking a bit about it, i it shouldn’t be too hard to some of the stock control in Excel. It shouldn’t be too difficult, and i have written, using a mix of VBA and formulae, purchase orders, delivery notes off the back of an Excel file.

    It really depends on how much you need to put on the database as to whether you need a database or can get away with Excel.

    boxfish
    Member

    Whatever you implement as your database, BACK IT UP, REGULARLY.

    I think you’re right. I’m not bad with simpler excel stuff and can picture how to do a fair bit with logic functions alone…

    boxfish
    Member

    Maybe one way to go is for you to do a training course or two so that you can exploit what’s available in Excel?

    Oh, and back up your spreadsheets. 😉

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    thinking a bit about it, i it shouldn’t be too hard to some of the stock control in Excel. It shouldn’t be too difficult, and i have written, using a mix of VBA and formulae, purchase orders, delivery notes off the back of an Excel file.
    It really depends on how much you need to put on the database as to whether you need a database or can get away with Excel.

    Please no! Using Excel as a database in this sort of context is just a recipe for disaster.

    boxfish
    Member

    Please no! Using Excel as a database in this sort of context is just a recipe for disaster.

    😀

    Is there any wonder we keep going round in circles with this stuff?!!

    mrmo
    Member

    Please no! Using Excel as a database in this sort of context is just a recipe for disaster.

    It all comes down to what the op wants to do, keep it simple and excel will do the job, the more complex it gets then a database is the way forward.

    KISS, no point doing something more complicated than it needs to be, it is only going to go wrong and cost time and money.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    Fwiw MS Acess will do a lot of this nicely as it doesn’t sound complex ( but needs to be done correctly as already mentioned). The advantage of Access is that you would only need to buy on copy and then you can create run time versions of the database for all of your staff. The downsides are that it isn’t like an Excel sheet, there is a bit of learning involved. Also creating a customer facing web page with login wouldn’t be trivial. If you only had a few customers then you could combine it with Azure and then give them copies of the Access front end db as well

    I would look and see if something existed online already for a monthly fee

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