More on the benefits of business databases

In last week’s column, Heather Godfrey of CM Databases told me why all business owners should have a database. After her convincing response, I dug a little further.

I asked her the following:

What’s the benefit of having a database over having a spreadsheet?

“Any means of recording your data in an ordered way is having a database, and spreadsheets can be used in a database kind of way.

“But a spreadsheet is not the right tool for the job of contact-management. It’s like using a wheelbarrow to do the shopping; it does the job eventually, but requires far greater effort, and creates havoc on the way.

“Spreadsheets often feature a list of ‘names’ consisting of a mix of individuals, organisations, or couples, so that anything done with that list omits to record who you are dealing with.

“Moreover, the temptation to copy/paste a list of names is too great! As soon as you have a name listed twice, the trouble begins: someone moves home or changes job, you change one instance and forget the others, then eventually you won’t remember which is correct.

“Spreadsheets are bad news for business management, because inconsistency equals mess, and mess equals inefficiency.

“A good CRM system will allow the entry of a name only once, and then feed this through to wherever else it is needed.

“Once groups have been identified, they can be used again and again for bulk emailing, labels, exporting, etc.”

What’s the most common question you’re asked about databases? “I hardly ever get asked about databases – and that’s the way it should be.

“Databases should be buried deep alongside computer code and algorithms, and left for nerdy types (like me) to play with.

“What I am often asked, though, is whether a product like mine (which happens to use database technology) would cater for the problems people have.

“Mostly, if it’s to do with business administration the answer is yes. But databases shouldn’t be thought of as an answer to a problem in the first place - they are a way of avoiding problems.

“I really enjoy the satisfaction I get from making people’s working environment run more smoothly.”

What’s your experience of using databases (or not – like me until recently)? Tweet me @coachbythecoast