Small Businesses and the Right Type of Database Solution{Comments Off on Small Businesses and the Right Type of Database Solution}


By Christopher G

Over the summer I worked at a company named Industrial Powersource (IPS) as a business analyst intern. IPS specialized in selling forklift batteries and their respective chargers as well as their repeated maintenance. Their on location warehouse stores over two hundred batteries and chargers as well as over a thousand parts used to perform repairs and reconstruction. The problem they faced was how do they keep proper track of how many individual items they had and where their batteries and chargers are located. When looking for solutions they found databases scary and too technologically advanced for their needs. However, this is an ideology that many mom and pop type small business face and it keeps them “using Microsoft Word or Excel to log sales and customer information, when they really need simple databases.” (Dreier,2003). Implementing the right database solution is the most important decision any small business can make.

At IPS, their method of inventory tracking was Excel spreadsheets, tally counts on pieces of paper, and customer data spread out among multiple documents and programs. They were constantly losing track of items and that those losses quickly add up especially when their margins are razor thin. When choosing which database solution a company wishes to go with “experts stress the importance of selecting a system that best meets your needs. At the bare minimum, you’ll want one that offers customization tools, is updated frequently, and comes with reliable, proven support.” (Thomas, 2010) IPS wanted a database that would allow them to track all their materials, customers, and be easy to use for non-technical people.

The first option I suggested with was an enterprise resource planning solution which seemed like a sensible solution but in the end would not be the right choice. Most ERP’s are designed with big companies that have an IT department in mind (Leiva-Gomez, 2013) so the implementation would become a problem. A second problem is the overall cost. Licensing the ERP the CEO wanted would, over a ten-year period, cost around three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which is a daunting number for a small business.

The second solution was software specifically designed for small business that “lack the resources to create sophisticated customer databases or database marketing applications.” (Fook, 2001). I finally decided on a company called Orderbot that provided many of the database features that IPS was looking for at an affordable cost. The benefits included all their customer data in one place, separating their batteries and parts into different data warehouses, and commission rates for the salesmen at an affordable price that was acceptable to my company. The most important thing, however, was the fact that the software was easy to use and learn as well as did not seem daunting to the employees who were going to use it.

In conclusion, when a small business needs to decide which database solution it needs to go with they will need to take into account many factors including price, ease of use, and employee acceptance. Nevertheless, all small business should look into implementing their own databases.

Dreier, T. (2003, Jan 01). Databases for all reasons ; A “simple database” is no longer an oxymoron. whether you’re part of a midsize business or just an individual, one of these seven tools can get you organized – easily. PC Magazine, 22, 116-132. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.library.cpp.edu/docview/203715841?accountid=10357

Frook, J. E. (2001). Database has big appeal to small business. B to B, 86(2), 17. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.library.cpp.edu/docview/209395466?accountid=10357

Leiva-Gomez, M. (2013, November 07). What is ERP? Does It Have a Place In Small Business? Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2013/11/what-is-erp-does-it-have-a-place-in-small-business.html/

Thomas, F. (2010). How to Select the Best Database Software. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/10/how-to-select-the-best-database-software.html