BUSINESS know how

Getting on top of your business with a database by George Swinton

for many of us born before 1990 that remember the world turning well enough before the Internet, the question has to be asked, ‘Why use a database?’

Deep down though we know why; we have all experienced the frustrations of working with Luddites (people devoutly against technology) and we have been the driving demand for, and delivery of, new technology. Work is so much easier and time-saving when our client lists, product information and sales histories are organised.

With a database Information is not just being stored in the memories of the top, most valued people in a team, but is backed up in a central place for everyone to share. They say ‘knowledge is power’ and with a database, this knowledge is back in the hands of the organisation, safe and versatile.

onclouds databases touch screen online bespoke software

What Is…

a database?
A collection of any stored data that can be accessed by approved users and software. Data can be uploaded to a server and retrieved from the database for a variety of uses.

Business Software?
Business software is any application, website or computer system, the use of which assists in the running of a particular business. It can be central to the way the business is run, such as an online retailer, or a useful supplement to make certain tasks easier, such as a stock management system.

an App?
An app, short for application, is a type of software or program that is designed to run on the platform it is installed on, and not through a browser. An app is designed to perform predetermined and coordinated functions.

Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a system that allows applications and software to communicate and store data through a third-party-run server, allowing users to save money on storage media and other maintenance related costs.

So for example, here are some typical uses of business databases:

Business Type: Restaurant
Main Function: Book tables
Extra Uses: Store customer preferences, store customer birthdays, export customer contacts for emailing or postal mail outs, create sales analysis reports

Business Type: Salon
Main Function: Book appointments
Extra Uses: Product ordering and management

Business Type: Estate Agent
Main Function: Book appointments
Extra Uses: Manage property information

Business Type: Travel Agent
Main Function: Book holiday packages
Extra Uses: Create supplier Purchase Orders and customer invoices

Business Type: Retailer
Main Function: Online sales
Extra Uses: Create picking lists, manage stock levels, manage delivery/distribution

Business Type: Recruitment
Main Function: Match CV’s to jobs
Extra Uses: Store job and company data, store candidate and CV data, search mixed/complex variables, export customer contacts for emailing or postal mail outs, create sales analysis reports

Business Type: Project Managers
Main Function: Managing tasks
Extra Uses: Store client data, store supplier data, create estimates of time and cost, add sub tasks for each contributor, store additional info/files, export customer contacts for emailing or postal mail outs and create production analysis and sales analysis reports

Customers increasingly want to be able to do as much on the Internet as possible, on phones or desktops and a database can easily be plugged into online. A business that fails to offer these conveniences is likely to fall behind while organisations that provide more than their competition will find it easier to secure clients and attract a more forward-thinking team.

Off-the-shelf Packages
Every sector has a bunch of available software that can be bought/leased or used online. A quick search on Google will bring up a list of them for you to take a look at and even try.

Pros:

  • Quick to get up and running
  • Small set-up costs
  • Pay as you go running costs (typical £100 per month/per user)
  • Proven, tested software with reduced bugs/errors
  • Good customer support

Cons:

  • Lots of features you don’t want are included in the costs
  • Lots of features are in the way of the ones you actually want
  • Some features you want aren’t included
  • Little opportunity to modify or tailor it to fit the way you work
  • Paying per user per month in the long term can be quite expensive, for example
  • 5 users @ £100 per month is £6,000 per year, (£18,000 after 3 years)*

Bespoke Software
A reasonable developer/team can sit with you and find what key processes you want to carry out and what data you want to manage. The best features in other industry software can be cherry-picked and only those developed to fit the way you want.

Pros

  • Tailored features to fit how you and your customers really behave
  • Designed for the skill levels and devices you want
  • You own/part own the software; reduced ongoing costs
  • Personal, direct contact with your developers
  • One-off fees, so if you are still using it in 3 years you are likely to be saving money

Cons

  • Slower delivery, probably 6 months of consultation, development and testing
  • Bigger up-front cost, to cover planning and development fees, for example
  • Retailer database linked to a website from £5,000*
  • Restaurant or simple Booking System database from £5,000*
  • Recruitment database from £10,000*
  • Project Manager database from £10,000*

*Development cost estimates provided by Onclouds Limited.

Local companies like Onclouds have been developing these kinds of tailored solutions to fit in with other existing software for years and offer a free consultation to discuss any application, database or software system.

According to Gabriel, the Services Manager at Onclouds, “Bespoke solutions are the best option for businesses who know what they want, can articulate it in simple terms and have realistic expectations. It will always work out cheaper in the long run and ‘fit’ all the users better too.”

So, if you are thinking it might be time to take your business processes online or if you have an idea for an App that could change the world, there is someone local at hand to talk it over.

For a free consultation (and a coffee!) contact
ONCLOUDS
Bespoke Software and Database Development
t: 020 7403 8105
w: www.onclouds.com

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