When you run a small business, there are a plethora of items to manage. To the extent that someone or something can reliably take any of those off of your plate, you can make better use of your time.

When your processes are well-known and well-documented, you can use software to automate parts or all of those processes. This is the beginning of scaling your organization: process automation. When you automate your processes, you are no longer as dependent on human beings to grow.

Unfortunately, for most small businesses, there are so many things to manage that sitting down and mapping out your processes is not something that you set aside time for. So rather than careful thinking and planning, automation tends to be developed from the sidelines, if you will.

That is to say that someone other than the owner, usually a smart and eager employee, comes up with an idea and implements something to save some time. That employee, let’s call him Jeff did not realize that he just birthed the business’ enterprise management system but he did. Jeff used the tools at his disposal and Microsoft Access was the best weapon available given his knowledge and skill set.

The owner, let’s call him Bob, gets wind of the new creation and visits Jeff to see it in action. Bob is blown away at both the functionality and the drive of young Jeff. Bob wants to encourage that kind of team behavior so he requests a few more features to be added to Jeff’s invention.

What Bob doesn’t see is he fell right into the trap. The Microsoft Access trap. Bob doesn’t know much about enterprise class systems. Bob knows how to run his business and Bob can see when something is going to make life easier. This is clearly easier than what had been done in the past.

Microsoft Access is good for many things. It is a perfectly fine product for what it was designed for. The problem with Microsoft Access is the ease with which you can put together functioning systems hides the complexities that must be handled to create truly enterprise-class systems.

Jeff isn’t a programmer. But Jeff is now THE programmer. Jeff doesn’t know about transactional integrity. Jeff doesn’t know about corrupted databases. But Jeff is going to find out all of these things. And Jeff’s job is going to change to be the principal carer and feeder of the beast that will become the enterprise management system for Bob’s business.
Could a solid enterprise-class system be created using Microsoft Access? Yes. But whoever creates it needs to take into account all of the use cases and to make sure that it will perform well under the load of multiple simultaneous users.

Microsoft has SQL Server for a reason. SQL Server is an enterprise-class database. It’s designed to create enterprise-class systems. So, as developers, we steer towards SQL Server. It eliminates 90% of the problems that happen with Microsoft Access when used to create an enterprise-class system.

What’s the point of this? Don’t get seduced by the stunning beauty of the leaves (or how easy it is to whip something useful out in Microsoft Access). Those leaves can eat you alive.