Most businesses need a database. The world is so information-rich that not having one could kill your efficiency, and your business, all by itself. But choosing a database isn’t easy. Sure, you could do a Google search and find one within your price range in about 5 minutes. But will it be worth it? Probably not.
There are three areas you should consider (besides cost) when choosing a database: features, your future, and upfront and long-term costs. Taking time to work through these questions before you buy will save you lots of time later.
Databases do a lot of different things, so you need to know what you need your database to do. For example, will you only need a database for your accounting department? Or will you need one for your customer service department, too? And what about the shipping department? You get the point.
It might seem logical that all databases can cover all departments, but this is rarely the case. Most often you’ll be presented with a database for each department. This isn’t bad, but be very careful before you buy. The biggest problem with multiple databases is confusion among departments. If the CS department has a different database than the shipping department, how will the CS rep tell if a customer’s order has been shipped or not?
These are the type of feature-related question you need to ask yourself. What does the database need to do, and how will you balance that among departments?
If your business is growing, what features are you likely to need in the future? This is called scalability. Your database needs to be able to grow to meet your needs.
You should also consider the database itself. How long has it been around, and how long is it likely to be around? For example, Microsoft Access will likely be around for a long time. An open-source database (one you don’t pay for), however, may not be around in a year if it doesn’t have a solid track record.
Upfront and Long-Term Cost
Databases usually have an upfront cost (for implementation) and then a long-term cost (for maintenance). Take time to price each of these out. Ask the company you plan to buy from to give you an estimate for each.
Additionally, find out if you’ll need to add staff in order to run the database. If you don’t currently employ a technical professional you may need to so that they can monitor the database and keep it running efficiently and cleanly.
Databases provide a great way to consolidate your business information. It’s a great tool, but it’s not a printer. You can’t simply resell it for a small loss if it doesn’t work out. So save your employees frustration, and your company money, by taking the time now to accurately choose database software.
Vanessa James is a business technology consultant specializing in database management. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge with individuals and companies alike. She currently writes for Oracle monitoring solutions provider confio.com.PS: Digging this story, news or review? Let us know! Comments open.
About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is a professional self-employed blogger and the founder / owner of Technology Blogged. 22, with a love for good writing, you'll find me playing 'Drag Racing' on my HTC One X and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to my feed for unique editorials. Find me on Google+. View author profile.