Building a database - where do i start?.......

  ShorN 20:10 11 Feb 2005

Hello all.
First post in these forums and hoping for a bit of help and guidance!

I work for a large company that contracts 3 different bailiff companies to collect money for them.

When a bailiff collects the money he is entitled to fees for doing so.

At the moment all this is recorded on a 3 seperate spreadsheets. For example:

Say a bailiff goes and collects £100 from a debtor. He is then entitled to a £10.00 fee.
This is recorded on a spreadsheet with the following coloums

Debtors name.
Debtors reference number.
Amount debtor owes.
Amount of fees due to bailiff.
Date the bailiff collected payment.

At the end of teh month the bailiff will then invoice us for there work and we will check this spreadsheet to make sure they havent invoiced for it before.

Obviously this takes a long time looking through a massive spreadsheet which is currently holding 1-2 years worth of work.

Now im sure this will be better handled by a database.

My question is... where should i start?
There would be a total of about 4 people needing access to the database which permissions to edit it.
Is it going to be something that can be doen in Access?, or am i more likely to be looking at something a bit more powerful?

I havent really touched on databases before but im willing to learn and can learn quite quickly, so any help or guidance will be greatfully recieved!


  john-232317 20:30 11 Feb 2005

Get a licence for holding clients personal information first.

click here;jsessionid=CNJnZl3VVHGQ0GQSr48pChRKMdLh5BzJQwLGnZsQk1JpbHZY1lw6!1001759748!1108153447669?r.l1=1073861197&r.s=tl&topicId=1074448560

  john-232317 20:34 11 Feb 2005

Sorry try this one

click here

  octal 20:43 11 Feb 2005

Welcome to the forum.

Do you have a copy of Microsoft Access on your computer? If you do, have a look at that, be warned its not for the faint hearted, you will probably need help building it. We have one at work based on Access, but its taken a long time to get the thing working somewhere near what we want because there was nothing else dedicated to what we needed.

I think we will be purchasing a dedicated one for our needs in the near future so the whole organisation can have read access to it.

dadyassa, looks like you've messed up the thread with that link :-D

  VoG II 20:48 11 Feb 2005

You should be able to import the data from Excel into Access then build in some queries. That's the sum of my knowledge about Access!

  john-232317 20:58 11 Feb 2005

I think the forum is anti government ;-))

What a stupid great number for a link ;-))

  grey george 21:04 11 Feb 2005

If you start the wizard in MS-Access it will guide through setting up the data fields. I would then take a small amount of data from your spread sheets and use it to teach yourself how the basic functions work. Access is straight forward until you get into using it across networks/ sorting out who can and can't read/write data / multipul relationships between tables.The main work goes on in the design view. This is were you set up what each data field is and which format you want it in. The layout view looks much like excel and this is where you can edit your data and many other things. If you only need the basic functions you should be able teach youself what you need using the wizards/help files and this forum.

Do keep in mind the data security issue raised above

  penholder 21:09 11 Feb 2005

Use Access. Did first part of an Access database training course today and I think it is just what you need. It's powerful and like all databases does require some ideas put down on paper, first.
There are organisations who do database training at quite reasonable costs. It would be worth the investment. I'm sure there are books (i.e Dummy series) to help.
If you are holding personal information you will need to comply with the Data Protection Act.

  wiz-king 21:23 11 Feb 2005

I have built two databases for work and I would not wish the task on anyone. I found it much easier with Lotus Approach than with MS Access, but if you have the data on Excel files it may be easier to modifie them to do the job with the addition of a few extra columns to hold intermediate results - you can allways hide them when you have finished de-buging the program. I presume that you have a sheet for each baliff at the moment, if that is the case then it would be quite easy to keep it that way and just add a column for date baliff is payed and another for his invoice number, each month do a sort by the date of collection by the baliff, then put his invoice number in. Then you can re-sort the data into any convenient order.
But - be prepared to talk to the VAT and Revenue men, you may have to justify your programming, thats why most firms buy in Sage or a similar prog to do the work.

  *Silver*Hawk* 21:44 11 Feb 2005

I would...start on sheet of A4 paper. Plan the whole structure and what the end user requires on the tables. Is the database going to be relational. Looking at what is required I would assume so. Then you need to sort out relationships between the tables too, think of keys to use etc...

  ShorN 23:23 11 Feb 2005

Thanks for the replies so far
sorry its taken a while to respond (had to pop out!)
Well were getting Access at work and i have a copy on my home PC so i was thinking of starting to have a play around home here to get the ideas going.

As some have stated, the info atthe moment is on Excel spreadsheets. Ive been looking into some tutorials on how to convert this data to a database, and they seem fairly informative and could get me on the right track.

One thing im interested in is how the database "presents" the infomation?

Part of the problem with the spreadsheets is that they are not always picking up on some of the data. For example - when i do a search for a refernce number it says there is no match, but after manually looking through the sheet i end up finding it.

The spreadsheets are very large and the amount of entries are now running into thousands. It just does not seem practical to keep this info on one spreadsheet.

Basically im hoping that in the end I will be able to search a reference number at that will bring up every invoice that debtor has been on and dates, amount and so forth.

I know its going to be quite a bit of work but are most people in agreement that this type of thing would be better handled by a database as opposed to a spreadsheet?

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