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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Warning - Introduction & Looong Post!

    Hi there,

    This is my first post, so I thought Id better introduce myself first. Im a database newbie, though Im pretty experienced in spreadsheets and PC maintenance. I can pinch snippets of VBA from the net and adapt it to suit my needs in Excel, but my programming knowledge goes no further.

    I have just taken a new job for a firm that is much smaller than my previous one and has some very arduous processes which I think could be sped up no end by using some IT. Thing is, I touched upon Access at college, which was a decade ago. Things have moved on since then, and I dont really remember anything. Ive Googled around to very little avail, there seems to be very little advice for someone of my skill level.

    By no means am I asking people to do this for me, Id just like a gentle push in the right direction. When theres products such as SharePoint, Access, InfoPath, SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle and countless others I think Im at more of a loss than I was when I started.

    Basically my requirements are as follows:

    We are a small construction company and we carry out property maintenance. Id like a system that could allow Site Managers to log site progress, which could be used in the office to check against the wages. Id also like to be able to export weekly wages for all operatives who worked that week.

    Ive attached a diagram of how I envisaged the database to look. I have 9 tables (so far) that are all related through 1:Many or Many:1 relationships.

    The idea is that the Site Manager fills in the Work Elements, Quantities and Addresses completed, and who by (tblBooking Off). The Surveyor keeps the rates of pay up to date and the Wages Clerk keeps bank details up to date. Each operative belongs to a gang, and a gang work as a unit on a given item of work. Each gang has a leader.

    The Surveyor would also set up a new contract through a form which allows the addition of a new contract (tblContracts), and all the addresses (tblAddressList) within that contract.

    The Director would update the works items that the company carry out (tblWorkElements) and the Surveyor would associate a scope of works using these items for every address on the contract (tblScopeofWorks).

    Numerous queries would be needed, to work out things such as the value of work carried out by a given gang on a given contract. So the output would need to list all addresses for a specific contract that a specific gang worked on. The rates would also have to be pulled in and associated with the addresses to give a cost per property.

    The system has to be expandable so that in future we can work out quantities of materials needed for a contract etc, however well walk before we run.

    Obviously the above suggests a web interface which must be user friendly. The Site Managers are renowned for non-existent IT skills!

    Am I punching above my stations here? From what Ive read so far I want a MySQL server and database with a web-based frontend. This would be flexible, accessed from afar and would enable simultaneous updates. Budget is low, but if massive advantages can be gained from using Sharepoint/Infopath well do it.

    Also, Infopath Whats the point? Doesnt Sharepoint designer do the same thing?

    I have no clue how to set up a server, how to set up the database or how to create queries or reports, or how to make a web interface. I had a feeling I was getting closer with MySQL server and the Workbench software that came with it, but documentation for the novice doesnt seem to exist.

    Apologies for the long post! Anyone who can help gets a pint.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Nobody?! Just a gentle nudge, please! A slight sway in the right direction?!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    out on a limb
    what you have asked is a generalised question
    its massive in scope
    if y9ou have/t done much db work in the last 10 years, and you are thinking of deploying this as a web app and you are on a tight budget then I'd suggest you dont' do this. unless your company is asking for this or needing this don't do it.

    can it be done, yes (but then that's the answer to most such questions: can a computer help doing X,Y,Z)

    Is it worth doing, well only a full system analysis will tell you that.. is it worth the effort the cost in time and money to do this when other projects may provide a better use of such scarce resources

    the technical implications are massive, especailly when you start talking of a web based model deployed of a public network, dealing with sensitive stuff such as wages. the security implications if you get it wrong are horrendous. there are lots of scumbags out there.

    can it be done, yes, should it be done (only you and your company can decide that)
    its it something a one man band should contemplate doing in the absence of detailed experience over the last 10 years or so, my advice would be NO.

    if you want to then by all means develop the stuff in house, but dont' deploy on a public server until you are fully up to speed on security issues and how to harden the app against a hostile world. And a one man band may never be able to get up to speed let alone keep ahead of malicious developments. Kep the initial applciation small ion scope bt realistic in terms of delivering something reasonably soon which can be a foundation to build addiitional modules.

    its very easy to get a web system running (on an internal intranet or public internet). however to get one which is secure, competantly designed and expandable can be tricky.
    I'd rather be riding on the Tiger 800 or the Norton

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Thanks for the reply, much appreciated,

    Exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. Reading what you've just put, maybe I should clarify/revise some points:

    Scope. OK, I'll reduce it. Maybe I'll remove all sensitive information, so that the system only contains who did what/when and remove some of the not-priority features.

    Security. We'll make it internal only, so no public network access.

    Company size. I said small, but I still mean 100+ employees. I was employed in another capacity to IT, but I have an interest and I have a lot of influence within the company so would like to do something like this.

    Capacity. There are two of us with what I'd call the ideal IT prerequisites to learning such skills. The other guy has years of experience in c/c#/vb, but doesn't have the time I have.

    Maybe there's some resource I can use start learning, to have a play with?

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