Many small businesses often start out recording data in spreadsheets or simple databases like Microsoft Access — information about products, clients, projects, sales, budgets, and financial transactions. But just as your business eventually outgrows spreadsheets for financial data and progresses to a proper accounting package like MYOB, so too will you eventually outgrow your initial database or core business system.
Some of the common growing pains experienced with a spreadsheet or MS Access system are:
The solution we recommend to these problems is to translate your existing system into a web-based application. The main benefits of this approach are:
Business owners will often raise concerns about moving a core system onto the web. Some of the main concerns raised are:
A web-based system can be hosted with a web hosting company or on your own internal office server. Hosting companies can handle backups, usually charging a per GB fee. If you decide host the site yourself, you will need to manage the backups.
If the system is designed and developed correctly then current web technology can be very secure. When designing a secure web-based system, you should take into account the budget, requirements and possible threats, and then build a system to suit.
There is no doubt that there will be a significant upfront investment required to replace your existing system with a web-based application. To decide whether the investment is worthwhile, you should consider:
— How much time are you currently spending maintaining your existing system, or using manual workarounds?
— What is the possible cost to your business if you don’t have up-to-date and complete data or if an employee leaves and takes a copy with them?
— How long can your business continue to grow if you don’t upgrade to a system that better manages your processes?
Information technology moves at such a fast rate that older technology does become obsolete and systems do need to be rewritten.
The use of web-based software for business systems is well established, and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. The web is a great platform to build on and will provide a platform that will allow your business system to grow and mature for many years to come. It is more likely that your business will change and require a system update within the next 5-10 years, than the use of the web as a business platform will go out of date in the same time period.
Web-based systems are not perfect, but they do solve some of the really difficult problems of desktop-based business systems. 4mation has years of experience building and maintaining core business systems on the web, so if you are experiencing growing pains and would like to discuss your options, or if you have any questions, please contact us and setup a time to speak with one of our friendly project managers who will be able to guide you through the process.