Replacing Microsoft Excel and Access

Excel and Access are great tools when used for the right purpose, but they have limitations. A lot of the work we do involves replacing troublesome systems built on Excel or Access by custom web applications with robust databases.

A common situation is that a new recruit joins the department and creates a handy calculation spreadsheet. Everyone starts using it and suggesting new features. Some features get "bolted on" and people find workarounds to extend the functionality, but no-one has time to document them properly.

A few months later the new recruit leaves the department, and the spreadsheet slowly evolves into a multi-workbook macro-enabled monster that frequently crashes. Nobody fully understands it, and it takes over the job of the unfortunate person who knows more about it than everyone else.

  • Are you emailing out spreadsheets for multiple users to complete, chasing them up, and then spending ages consolidating the results because some of them have added an extra column or changed the formulae and messed up the data?
  • Are your users complaining that you're asking for the same data as someone else, but in a different format, or asking you to re-send the spreadsheet because they've lost the email?
  • Do you issue pro-forma documents to collect work request details in a standard format, and then manually transfer all the data into a master spreadsheet so you can manage workloads and produce metrics?
  • Is your manager frequently asking you for a graphical report in a format that takes ages to produce manually?
  • Do you spend more time copying and pasting data and fixing problems in Excel than using the data to add value to your business?

If so, you should consider a custom web application.

We can help you escape from "Excel Hell" with a custom web application featuring:

  • A robust and reliable database There will only be one copy of the data, which will be stored in one central SQL Server or Oracle database that multiple users can access and update simultaneously through the application. Regular automated database backups reduce the business risk from accidental data corruption.
  • An intuitive user interface The application can be set out in a way that makes sense to your users, with context-sensitive help and validation messages to ensure correct data entry.
  • Workflows with notifications and reminders If the data needs processing or approving by more than one user, the application can send instant email notifications to the next person in the process or send targeted reminders to those with outstanding tasks. The application can track the time taken for each stage of the process to identify bottlenecks and assist with process improvement.
  • Integration with other systems Interfaces to other databases and systems can be created to extend the usefulness of the application, speed up data transfer, and eliminate copy and paste errors.
  • Secure and traceable data access Access to the data is controlled by role so only authorised users can view and edit the data. All changes can be logged with the time and user's name to provide audit traceability.
  • Version control All users access the same web application, so you can be sure that no-one is using an out of date version.
  • Consistent reporting Reports can be standardised and automated, and dashboards within the application can display key metrics in real time.
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