Outgrown Your Legacy Excel & MS Access Application?

We will look carefully at your existing application(s) and business needs to help you formulate a logical, economical approach. Below are the ten most common reasons why our clients decide to migrate to a SQL Server-based Smart Client solution.

  1. Too Many End Users for MS Access and ExcelMS Excel and MS Access applications are simply not designed to support more than a handful of End Users. In a multi-user environment, both MS Excel and MS Access will quickly turn into a liability, where costs and issues associated with performance will steadily increase. 
  2. Concurrent Internet AccessMS Excel and MS Access applications are not designed to be exposed to the Internet. Workarounds are available to “Internet enable” an MS Access application (Citrix or VPN with Remote Desktop are common), but these approaches provide poor performance, are expensive to build and maintain, and only serve to place additional multi-user burden on the application.
  3. Poor Data Integrity in MS Access/ExcelMS Excel and MS Access provide little to no means to enforce proper integrity of business data. Absent proper data integrity and calculations or references to other data within the application will not function properly, and reports that are used to make business decisions are suspect or even useless.
  4. Slow Application Performance in MS Access/Excel?The root-cause of poor application performance is due often due to deficiencies in the underlying database schema design. This is true for any database application, including MS Access and MS SQL Server. Poor MS Access performance might also be a signal that your application is poorly designed or that you may have outgrown the built-in limitations of the MS Access application and it is time to refactor your application design, or migrate to a SQL Server database.
  5. Exceeding Database Size Limits in MS Access?If you are pushing the data store limitations of MS Access, or you have run out of columns or rows in MS Excel, it is time to consider moving to a real relational database to support your business data management needs. Microsoft advertises that MS Access can handle up to a 2 GB datastore, but in reality you will notice degradation in performance and stability when exceeding 1 GB. A large number of records and/or users can also exceed MS Access limitations. Common work-arounds may include deleting or archiving older data but this prevents you from analyzing important patterns and trends in your operational and customer business data.
  6. Security Deficient or HIPAA Compliance Required?MS Excel and MS Access can only be protected by two things: a password, and the operating system itself with its security attributes set by the network administrator. MS Access provides very limited means to establish, manage, and validate security. Many businesses require that different people inside and outside your organization have different data management privileges associated with individual business roles like the ability to view and modify certain types of information. SQL Server provides much more robust security capabilities, and supports true role-to-privilege-based security management controls.
  7. MS Access Reporting Inflexible / Inadequate?If you have a simple application with 6 or so tables, with a limited sub-tables and less-than-complex relationships among the various data fields, MS Access may be perfectly suitable to your reporting needs. MS Access also makes it easy to design new reports, and perform ad hoc queries. If your reporting needs require more complex data modeling and formatting, more robust nested queries, or higher performance, then SQL Server Reporting Services offers the right approach. Dynamic Grids controls embedded directly into your application, and SQL Server Analysis Services both go well beyond the capabilities of canned reports, and are well-suited to ‘ad hoc’ reporting and more advanced business intelligence needs.
  8. MS Access Application Unreliable?Does your application run 24/7, crash frequently, or becomes corrupted, causing employee downtime and/or lost or corrupt data? The reliability of an MS Access application is constrained primarily by the quality of application design and by the built-in limitations of the MS Access application itself. If you are frequently compacting, restoring or repairing a corrupt MS Access system, it is time to refactor your application design, or migrate to the SQL Server database. We can help you understand whether remedial engineering of your MS Access application can improve reliability, or whether migrating to SQL Server makes more sense.
  9. Growing Workflow ComplexityMS Excel may be well-suited to supporting your application needs if workflow required to support your business process is fairly linear, and the information model is straightforward. However, complex business processes and associated workflows is the primary reason that companies develop custom applications. SQL Server, in combination with a .NET Smart Client front-end application, provide a number of efficient and easy-to-use ways to model complex business processes and workflows.
  10. Lack of Industry / Regulatory Compliance?Specific attention to data security and application design and development processes and associated documentation is required to comply with a number of different industry and regulatory standards including SarBox, SAS 70, HIPAA, 21 CFR Part 11, ISO and others. A SQL Server based application is required to meet many minimum industry and regulatory standards, and can be much more cost-effective in the long run. 

Original Developer Unavailable Or Under-Experienced?

We also see this situation quite often: a business with 75 employees running its day-to-day operations on a patchwork combination of MS Excel and MS Access applications that are cobbled together with poor engineering methods. Perhaps there are 2-3 individuals who are responsible for “holding the system together,” solve constant end users’ problems, and producing custom reports for management. Employee downtime is commonplace, and important business data is often unreliable or missing altogether. If this situation sounds familiar, it is probably time you consider migrating your system to SQL Server.