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Strategy for small database projects

I have received a request to transform simple access database into an IT solution. Now, should I take this we will end up going with internal development and I want to stay away from this. What is your suggestion and what database and technical solutions could be used here? I'd buy off the shelf or something similar.  
Would you develop this yourself? Would you look at it differently and what is your strategy on these requests from business?
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Jim HornSQL Server Data Dude
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Author of the Year 2015
Commented:
Your question as asked is not actionable.  

'Simple access database' can mean anything, and the quality of the app can range from built by underpaid offshore code monkeys that couldn't write a line of code without searching Google to rock stars.  

>end up going with internal development and I want to stay away from this.
Why's that?  Does your company not have any good internal developers?

>I'd buy off the shelf or something similar.  
You'll have to provide more details for us to ask a question of should an app be rebuilt home-grown vs. off-the-shelf software.

>Would you look at it differently and what is your strategy on these requests from business?
For starters, 'the business' needs to spell out exactly what their needs are, what the app does, any differences between the two, and what they care about, and a one paragraph description isn't going to cut it.

To give you some ideas, check out my article on Requirements Document Template for a Reporting Project, enjoy a few good laughs, and you'll be much better prepared to speak to what this project is all about.

Good luck.
Jim
AneeshDatabase Consultant
Top Expert 2009
Commented:
COTS is great if there are some cheap alternatives and if you can manually transform your data into the system. Cost effective. If you are planning to build it from scratch, then go for some free databases to save licencing cost like SQL Express, MariaDB etc
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
we'll need a LOT more information before we can offer anything specific.

To start:
What is causing the move from Access to something different?

What development and admin skills do you have in-house?  for example:  If you have a LOT of VB programmers, that would leave a Perl/Php based app out of the question.

Author

Commented:
we are just at the start. so far no developments in house have been done. it started as a small business application and then seems to have grown so much, and there's plenty of data in there that they are now realizing this could be a great system for few departments to use and share the reports from the data that's coming in.
We do not have anyone internally for this and our model is to outsource as much as possible. Now, this is all we are facing with and first time ever. It does shake our IT Strategy boat at the moment and we are not sure which way to go.
Dale FyeOwner, Dev-Soln LLC
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
along with the other ideas, what does "transform simple access database into an IT solution" mean?

What is an IT solution?  Access is suitable as a front end for multiple enterprises, so you would need to define why Access is insufficient and what an "IT solution" means.

Dale
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
>> so far no developments in house have been done

Who created the Access database?
Who created the reports?
etc...

Something has already been done in-house.

We still need to know what skillsets you currently have in place.
What IT people do you currently have and what are their abilities?

>>realizing this could be a great system for few departments to use and share the reports from the data that's coming in.

Still not seeing a need to get rid of Access and move to something else.
Why are you looking to get rid of Access?
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
it started as a small business application and then seems to have grown so much, and there's plenty of data in there that they are now realizing this could be a great system for few departments to use and share the reports from the data that's coming in.

Despite MS's foot-dragging on the issue, this is exactly the thing that makes Access valuable.  Any decently useful MS Access application that is well-designed starts to subsume other related functions until you wind up with a full-blown line-of-business application.

As long as the long-term number of concurrent users is going to remain well below one hundred and the application is only ever going to need to be used on a single LAN site, Access will suit your needs very well.  You will likely want and need to install SQL Server Express Edition (free) on a server-class machine and move the data into what is called a SQL Server backend.  The remaining part is called the frontend.  It should be distributed to the local drive of each user.

Bring in a reputable Access consultant, and git er dun.
Distinguished Expert 2017
Commented:
If you can find a packaged solution that actually meets your needs (you did do a requirements analysis didn't you?) then buying is always cheaper than building.  QuickBooks is a prime example.  The product took millions to develop and mega bucks to maintain every year and yet you can buy it for around $200 per seat.

You didn't tell us what type of internal development resources you have, only that you didn't want to use them.  Do you have professional level developers on staff?  If you don't, then you will need to hire some.  Don't push for a fixed price contract.  No one can estimate a project accurately enough to actually come up with a mutually beneficial price.