Access: The New Small Systems Frontier?
by Pat Craig 

From the Summer 1998 issue of the Complexity Management Chronicles 

Many companies are adding significant value to their business by implementing Microsoft Access databases. Because we think Access databases coupled with Visual Basic (VB) code will be the office productivity tool for the coming decade, we decided to report on some recent client success stories.

Companies use Access systems for much more than traditional database work. Access has all the computational functionality of a spreadsheet. Access provides the capabilities to build small systems. Access also enables user programmers to create workflow systems.

At a mutual fund company, Access system capabilities made it possible for a three person test tools group to supply 100% of the test data needs of a  30% user acceptance testing team. Another client, a mutual fund custodian, created four Access systems that improved their internal operations and substantially improved their profitablity.  One system charges the custodian's clients interest on overdrawn accounts. Another system collects interest revenue from stock brokers or mutual fund clients for failed bond trades.

Access has also helped the custodian close new business. One prospect, a major New York brokerage firm, wanted the custodian to handle the back office operations for their new limited partnership offering. At the same time, the brokerage firm had highly specific reporting needs. A quickly built Access system met the need.

In this investment custodial environment, Access systems also function as workflow systems between the hundreds of fund accountants and small centralized support groups. The custodian has three Access systems, one for foreign exchange requests, one for depository inquires (Ex: DTC inquiries), and one for additions to the stock and bond master file - all three systems function similarly. First, a specific department inputs a request for service into an Access database. Second, another department fulfills the request and notes it on the database. Finally, the requesting department checks the status of their request on the database.

The Access programmers added management reporting. These reporting capabilities give managers much more information than the old paper-based systems. 

This custodian has about ten Access databases that they use for tracking purposes. Custodians must demonstrate due diligence on behalf of their clients in following up on outstanding transactions such as dividends payable.

This client also uses Access to replace spreadsheet systems. For example, they use Access to fine tune the numbers before closing the corporation's books each month. Once the CFO approves the numbers, the month end coordinator emails upper management that they can now review the Access reports (by clicking on the month end icon on their desktops).

How to get started implementing Access:

  • Take Adult Education classes in Access
  • Join a local Access user group
  • Sign up for Microsoft products TechNet and Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN)
  • Subscribe to Smart Access magazine and Access-Office-VB Advisor magazine

Access provides enormous benefits. It is easy to learn, makes Rapid Application Development possible, and integrates VB coding. Access has features to secure the code and to ensure that data gets entered consistently. Please feel free to call our office at (617) 628-3339 to discuss Access in more detail, or to get information on local education classes and local user groups. 

©Complexity Management 1998
Somerville, Massachusetts
Located in Metropolitan Boston 

Complexity Management Chronicles, a newsletter for software quality assurance professionals, is published in print form four times a year. Send your name and snail-mail address to the e-mail address below if you would like to be on the mailing list - at no cost to USA mailing addresses. 


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