Regardless of the size of business, managing customers, employees and inventory effectively hold the key to success. This is true for small businesses and start ups as well as big corporations. The difference is only in the scale of business operations. Effective management of these resources is heavily dependent on proper management of data that is generated for each category and this can be accomplished by using database systems that have now become an integral part of any business.
It will be a mistake to view databases as mere repository for information. It does much more than storing information. Databases are powerful tools for optimizing information after analyzing it so that it can be put to good use for adding more value to business. This is the primary reason why even business start ups should include it in the overall plan of business. However, since technology is not cheap, start ups that normally face difficulties in managing finances, might like to give it a second thought.
How are databases different from spread sheets?
Limited finance is one of the reasons why start ups might be hesitant to invest in databases. Instead, they might like to use Excel or Google spreadsheets to accomplish the task of database as this might appear to be a cheaper alternative. But spreadsheets are much different in capabilities than databases even though it can perform the primary tasks of data accumulation and manipulation. Unlike spreadsheets, data bases are much more powerful, are driven by software and can handle huge data volume with the purpose of storing and using it for process management and analysis that helps to take decisions and draw action plans.
Databases are created with the specific purpose of making it easy to store and retrieve information when it is searched by using various components that constitutes information. This helps to collate similar information groups in the way users want. The facility though available in spreadsheets too is not as powerful and versatile as in databases. Any record, like customer data that comprises of various elements of information is stored in such way so that each element is entered in a separate field. This allows speedy data sorting and manipulation in the way you want. Each set of records comprise a table and several tables constitute the database.
Outsourcing database administration services
For managing and administering databases you have to engage a DBA consultant as it requires specialized technical knowledge to implement and monitor databases. Being a start up, outsourcing the service is the only way you can ensure that the database is utilized effectively.
- The consultant is thoroughly conversant with the operating system and database engine and ensures that it gains maximum uptime.
- In addition, the consultant will be responsible for database security, database tuning, backup and recovery as well as generating reports. The reports are the most important output from databases, as decision making is hinged on it.
- Database security is related to the use of the system by authorized users only and database tuning is necessary to enhance the database performance by making it more efficient.
Database for CRM
For start ups, the focus is on creating and capturing the market that can give it the much needed toe-hold that is necessary to make it confident about survival. Therefore creating a database for customers is the most widely accepted norm as it does not cost much. The use of customer database is best reflected in Customer Relationship Management software that is commonly known as CRM. This is extensively used for small businesses and start ups. Since start ups have less manpower to begin with, the software provides ample support in documenting every interaction with customers, both existing and potential, thereby providing better insights about marketing more effectively.
The importance of inventory management lies in its ability to boost the bottom line of business. Start ups in retail business can use databases for tracking inventory so that there are no chances of money being blocked in inventory. The architecture and design of inventory databases allow to access ready information about how much inventory is available at a specific location – at the warehouse, on the shelves or in a room. Monitoring the inventory and its movements can be done by using scanners and integrated bar codes. Therefore, it becomes extremely easy to know about the inventory available at a location at any point in time from the database without the need of physical counting.
Start ups would not remain start ups forever and should have the vision to embrace technology that can support the growth of the business organization. It is thus imperative to have a database for employees even for start ups. As databases can be scaled up, the system can accommodate the growing man power in due course of time. From scheduling duty rosters to organizing payrolls, the database is capable of delivering much value to the system. The payouts made to employees like wages and salary, commissions together with employee benefits like retirement account contributions and health insurance can all be captured by the database. In a broader sense, employee databases are like personnel departments for start ups.
Databases can be used for monitoring business trends and performance. The data across various databases can be assimilated and analyzed in order to give a picture about which way the business is heading. Customized reports that can be generated from the databases are analyzed to understand how the business is performing. It can also throw up specific patterns of productivity that can identify the times when it is low so that appropriate steps can be taken to enhance it. Similarly, analysis of data regarding sales promotion can point out the initiatives that boosted sales and those that tanked. Critical decisions can be taken quickly by looking at the reports that highlight different features of business performance.
Investing in databases allow start ups to concentrate on their business in a much focused manner that can soon drive it towards meaningful gains.
About the author
Sujain Thomas is a freelance writer who writes on business topics. With a background in law and business management, she has also worked as a DBA consultant for a few years before choosing to devote more time to write. A regular contributor to various magazines and websites, his work is well accepted in industry circles.