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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    6

    Question database 2012 101 needed.

    Hi all,

    I have never had to think about creating a database before and subsequently don't know anything about anything databasy. (Apart from using them at work which is just data input and pressing a show quote, history, contact button etc.)

    However I now find myself with a need to create a contact management database which will also show business profit and loss accounts. Obviously contacts, costings, calendar etc all need to be presented to me in a variety of different ways eg. how much was earned on 23/05/12, or who did I see on 23/05/12 or what job details are there for 23/05/12. Or even how much was earned from what type of job.

    Ideally this should be able to be pushed too and editable from iOS and Android ICS devices.

    My first question is: Can anyone speak to me in properly plain and simple english what my options are.

    I have zero cash however would save and spend if the reward was a perfect product whic is simple to use.
    I have also not ruled out paying someone to do the work for me, however I have no idea of what a reasonable price would be and again a zero cash issue remains.

    I've done a lot of reading recently which has only confused me more.

    Thank you all for reading so much.
    Can anyone help me please.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    It sounds to me like your ideal solution would be a combined CRM/ERP system. This would be overkill in terms of features and way over budget (in United States Dollars this combination usually has a six to eight digit price tag). The Android/iOS access gets kinky if you want an app, but some packages work nicely as a web page on a small screen.

    You may be able to find an existing package that is either close to or exactly what you need that is built upon a CMS. If you pursue this route you will almost certainly need to go web based, but that is likely to work to your advantage. While Drupal is SIGNIFICANTLY larger and more complex to learn, it probably offers you the best chance of finding a close match and also of customizing that match for a near perfect fit.

    At least so far I have not been able to find a database product that works on Android, iOS, and a desktop platform that I like well enough to take seriously... There are a few offerings that meet the minimum criteria, but I haven't found anything that I like well enough to use!

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    6

    Unhappy

    Wow Pat, thank you.

    The info you gave is fantastic and intimidating. I think something like Drupal is excellent, once you can use it, although it just seems so large for what I need. I know I don't need to use all whats on offer however as I have zero experience here I'm maybe afraid that I may get lost in the enormity of it all.

    The iOS and Android thing is an absolute ideal. I threw it it on the of chance that it would be considered the norm.
    Are the MS Access apps no good?
    (and no I don't have MS Access) although am considering going that way.

    I probably want more than I need!

    I've seen some drag and drop db editors although I've seen no reviews I trust and I will never learn if I use that style.

    Currently ALL info. is being logged in a shared calendar, (accessable on both phones) and into a badly organised file-o-fax.
    We have a small translation business that due to my redundancy has gone from being a hobby to making much needed extra income. The problem has come about because the 'infrastructure' hasn't been implemented and we're learning on the fly. I'm confident that if I can get this done it'll help make it into a viable work option.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Ah! More information about your problem is a good thing, it helps me to focus on your problem and how I'd solve it than on the way that you're looking at the problem right now. This is kind of like that customer that says to you: "Just translate the Japanese/Urdu/Swahili into English, that's all I need" who has no usable concept of the source language or culture.

    Hold tight, I'm going to swing the universe around and approach your problem from a whole new direction! Think about the idea of Google Drive using a shared calendar to track appointments, spreadsheets to track work done/payments/etc and either presentations or word processing documents to deliver the results of your labors. This is certainly NOT what you originally asked for, but I think it may give you a better working platform for now.

    Google Drive has been available for some time on Android, was just released for iOS, and works splendidly on the web. As an important side note, you and your partner or your client can collaborate on a single document at the same time from any Chrome browser, including voice over IP.

    Check this concept out to see if it will work for you, then let me know what you think.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    6
    Again thanks for the reply.

    We do use google calendar for knowing and scheduling each of our agendas to prevent cross- booking etc. However we had to do a self assesment and we found ourselves going day by day through the calendar trying to match up jobs with when the payment came in. How much we charge for each job etc.

    After reading about Google Drive, thanks for your suggestion, I have come across PracticePack.com application which seems so far to be able to do the things I want.
    How do you rate things like this? Will it be available - for ever - or transferrable to a more substantial system when/if the time arrives?

    How does Google Drive link financial data (spreadsheets) to job detail (word processor) and contacts?
    How is that communicated to me?
    Is it through using apps and widgets??

    Another way of putting into words of what I want is:

    To search my contact list and see details of how many jobs, what jobs, dates, how much per job and how much in total we've earned, per contact
    I'd like to see the jobs and income in a calendar perspective aswell as being able to pull data regarding profitable days/weeks etc.

    I'm sorry to burden you with what may seem inane questions and I do appreciate all the input you feel you can give.

    Thanks again for your considered responses, you've certainly helped me greatly so far.
    Last edited by Lord Cook; 07-03-12 at 18:47. Reason: Ok have just seen PracticePack exports to Excel or Oracle if needed

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    6
    Hmm so I've spent a few hours looking at PracticePack for Google Chrome and have come to the realisation that it won't do the 'job' I need it to. It's too inflexible. Not being able to create my own or delete existing fields is annoying to say the least.

    So now I'm back to square one, however I do have a much better understanding of what I need, I think.

    Am I right in saying that if I use Google apps. I will more than likely have to input data into more than one piece of software? This would be a bad thing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    In the sense that you want contacts, calendars, and a record of work done/billed/collected, you will have to enter the data into different places/programs unless you find or write a custom package. A "one stop shop" where that data is entered once and unified across both applications and platforms (Android and iOS) would require you or someone else to write custom code.

    I think that you probably ought to find a consultant who can sit down with you, understand your problems, and help you either customize existing software or write new software to suit your needs. Your needs can probably be met fairly easily using existing packages, but you really want more sophistication and integration than what existing packages offer. If you can sit down and explain exactly what you want and someone can show you what can be done using existing software you might find that the fit is better than you think or you might be better able to justify the cost of customizing or creating an existing package.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    6
    I'm surprised that I'm asking for a lot, although that just shows my inexperience in these things and yes I knew there wouldn't just 'be an app for that'
    I do need to talk to someone regarding what I want as, like you said, I'm sure that the individual applications are already out there and I just haven't found out what they are or how to use them to meet my needs.
    There's no way I'd be able to afford a bespoke piece of software and I really think that'd be overkill to the extreme. And I'm not too positive on being able learn the necessary skills in order to do it myself, although I will keep fiddling.

    Thanks so much for your help.

    And if anyone has any other ideas or suggestions I'd love to hear/read them.
    A more concise list of requirements (I think)

    I want to be able to search through a contacts database, find someone. On their 'sheet' I want to see history of work done, when and costs.
    I want to be able to look at a calendar and see. previous jobs, people seen, income and expenditure.
    I want to be able to 'click' on the detail in the calendar and be taken to the relevant contact sheet.
    I want to be able to plot income/expenditure, time worked, time period against each other on graphs.

    but I want to be able to see agenda/calendar and amend/edit it via iOS and Android ICS.

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