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Outlook for Simple Database?

Posted on 2010-11-16
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hello All,
    I am working with a non-profit who currently has a database with about 700 names.  There are many custom fields in this database. They ideally want to tie this database into quickbooks. They would like to use Outlook as their primary CMS. Is there a way to do the following?:
1) Design custom forms for all their custom fields in their current database?
2) Import the database?
3) Share the Contacts between all the computers in the office.

They are all running Windows 7 and Outlook 2010.
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Question by:JesusFreak42
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by:gheist
gheist earned 125 total points
ID: 34154880
Is a database with web interface an option?
Should be easy with tools like  http://phpformgen.sourceforge.net/
Then you emit xml to be handled by office.
Outlook databases are on Exchange server... They do not share well.
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by:David Lee
David Lee earned 125 total points
ID: 34155095
Hi, JesusFreak42.

1.  If you mean custom Outlook forms, then yes.
2.  Yes.
3.  Don't know.  Is their mail on an Exchange server?  If yes, then the answer is yes.  If the answer is no, then the answer is maybe.  Outlook does not have a built-in means of sharing contacts outside of Excahnge, so it'd require a third-party solution.
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by:Mike Lazarus
Mike Lazarus earned 100 total points
ID: 34155211
Why would they want to use Outlook as their CMS? It's not really designed for that
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U.S. Department of Agriculture and Acronis Access

With the new era of mobile computing, smartphones and tablets, wireless communications and cloud services, the USDA sought to take advantage of a mobilized workforce and the blurring lines between personal and corporate computing resources.

 
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8080_Diver earned 150 total points
ID: 34155487
On point #3, if their database with their contacts is an MS Access database, then they can link their Outlook Contacts into that database (e.g. by having the database on a network) and maintain the Outlook Contacts information either from Outlook or from Access.  This should allow them to all share the common Outlook Contacts list.  (Note:  If it does, that also means that any entries from anyone will also be shared. ;-)

Now, the complication would be in creating the forms in Outlook to handle the custom fields.  Alternatively, the Access database's data could be separated into 2 tables, one of which matches the Outlook Contacts fields and the other of which contains the custom fields.  By adding a Separate MS Access front end database on each user's desktop and linking it to the back end database's tables, the CMS could be mostly in Access (which is designed for that sort of thing more than Outlook is) while the Outlook Contacts would still have the shared aspect and also be controlled by the MS Access CMS.
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Author Closing Comment

by:JesusFreak42
ID: 34273968
Basically, you all helped us decide to use either salesforce.com or MS Dynamics instead of just Outlook. Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Mike Lazarus
ID: 34275045
You might also have a look at Sage ACT! ... might be more inexpensive than the other two and should still do what you're looking for
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U.S. Department of Agriculture and Acronis Access

With the new era of mobile computing, smartphones and tablets, wireless communications and cloud services, the USDA sought to take advantage of a mobilized workforce and the blurring lines between personal and corporate computing resources.

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