I am putting together a proposal for my church, the current DB software (Access) has been outgrown. One proponent of a no name brand software insists that to implement SQL could take a year and a team of programmers, is this true??
I'd say that depends on the software you now have in Access, it's requirements and what other requirements kicked in. If the Access application is (program wise) a mess it'll take some time to figure things out, also the number of programmers involved...
I have recently started using SQL Server instead of Access... SQL has some very powerful features but it has no front end to it like Access so you can't create forms and reports. You have to use other software to do this like Visual Basic for example. This is where the programmers come in! It is also important to have your database structured correctly otherwise you probably won't see any performance benefits.
SQL is more suitable where you have large numbers of concurrent users and vast amounts of data.
When you say your current database "has been outgrown" do you mean it has loads of data in it and it's running slow? Do you need to have all that data in there or can much of it be archived? Or do you just need to do more complex things with your data? SQL Server could be overkill, but it just depends on your exact requirements.
Can you just use SQL Server to replace the Jet database engine that ships with the MS-Access applicaiton? Allow Access to continue to provide the GUI, but put a beefier data engine under it?
If you want to save money more than you want to allow for growth, you might also consider splitting the Jet data into multiple files, and possibly archiving a bunch of the Access data into other files too. This leaves you to continue to deal with Jet's limitations, but many times a church can better afford to use donated programmer time instead of real cash out the door.
Also keep in mind that Microsoft has GREATLY reduced prices for its products for churches and schools. Your Pastor/Rabbi/Priest/Mulluah should have or be able to get information on this.