Off-The-Off The Shelf
Should I buy an off-the-shelf program or create a new one?
If an off-the-shelf program from Comp USA or Amazon.com will meet your
database needs, then by all means, grab it off the shelf. The cost of
developing a program that has thousands of users is spread out among those
users makes for a low price for each copy. On the other hand, the cost of
developing a database program for a small number of users is much higher per
user, of course.
Some things to consider in this regard along with the purchase cost is the
technical support you anticipate from the developer and the training cost
for you and your employees. Are there classes for the off-the-shelf program
available locally and what do they cost per attendee? Often a custom program
will have little or no training required because it is developed with
certain users in mind.
Such an off-the-shelf program could be, for example, Symantecís Act. It is a
program designed to collect contact or customer data. It works for many
If the off-the-shelf program will not completely work for you, you need to
look into creating a database program that will meet all of your particular
If from scratch, then do I develop it by myself or with help?
If I create a database from scratch, should I do it myself or
hire a programmer to do it for me? If the database program you need is
fairly basic, you could tackle it yourself. You need to allow for the
learning time it takes for you to get up to speed in learning Microsoft
Access on your own. And you will be slow to start with, but everyone who is
an expert now was once a beginner. Familiarity with databases is a plus.
Familiarity with programming is a plus. Familiarity with Windows and
Microsoft Office is a plus.
On the other hand, if your need is fairly complex, you should consider
getting professional help. Many, many projects never do get finished, even
after many hours are devoted to them, because they were too much to tackle
considering the complexity and the skills needed.
Off The Shelf
happens to my existing data when I have a new database developed? If
everything goes right, your existing data will be incorporated into your
new database. Either you or the developerís staff will input your
existing data. It needs to be collected carefully from the different
files that contain it and, most likely, new data will have to be added.
It may be appropriate to keep both the old files and the new database
updated for a while to make sure that the old information can still be
obtained from the new database. On the other hand, with a carefully
staged project that is tested and reviewed several times as it is
developed, the new database can be relied on by itself.