Great Debates: Excel vs. Access

I look at Excel as a gateway to data management and database programming. Let’s start with the basics on a familiar tool.

Someone asked me why I focus on using Excel to teach people how to think in data instead of Access. My answer was pretty simple. Most people in the workforce is going to have more experience with Microsoft Excel than Microsoft Access.

To introduce basic concepts so that more people understand how data works, Excel is the most familiar for my audience. I admit, more technical people will choose a database over a spreadsheet. There are situations, though, that you don’t need a database right away.

For example, if you’re starting a business and you only have 200 customers, you probably don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on software and a developer to manage that data. Maybe not even hundreds on any of the software being advertised on the internet. Maybe you still feel comfortable using paper and you can handle the admin work. It really just depends on comfort level and resources (whether its budget or knowledge of managing data).

From personal experience, I took no joy inheriting Excel files and miscellaneous database solutions that was poorly built, structured, and documented. I’m willing to bet the cause is because the folks responsible for implementing missed out on applying basic concepts. Personally, I believe the concepts are applicable even if the tool is a piece of paper and a pen.

Thoughts? Questions? Let’s talk story, holler @ me.

Why I Still Carry a Notebook & Pen

Staying prepared for any idea that comes up with my trusty EDC notebook & pen.

I get questioned why I carry a notebook and pen when I can use my phone. My answer will always be, “it’s convenient”. I don’t have to wait for an app to type something in with my fat fingers. I can quickly jot down a note and review it later during some down time.

Not only is it convenient, but it keeps me focused and gives me the pace I need to think things through. Otherwise, I’d get distracted by social media or checking my emails and I’ll forget the idea or task I needed to do. When I wake up and have an idea, it doesn’t take long to grab my pen and notebook that’s next to me.

One of the things that I’d like to start pushing for is an understanding that paper and pen are still part of an Information System. Some IT people may disregard the concept and point out an information system only has something to do with technology. And when they talk about technology, they’re referring to computers and other smart devices. I challenge that traditional thought.

I can just as well write instructions on a piece of paper using a pen and it can be considered a program. Being very proficient at identifying processes, it doesn’t matter if a piece of technology or a person is doing the work. I’m a big proponent of understanding the process. Once the process is understood then a decision maker can be responsible for choosing who or what will get the process done.

Others may use a fancy, free app on their phones to jot down notes but I prefer my pocket notebook and a pen. What do you prefer? Let’s talk story, holler @ me.