Software Decisions: Access vs. Excel
A main question I hear people asking when it comes to Microsoft (MS) Office software are which programs to use for certain tasks. For instance, Access or Excel, this can be a tricky issue and I have seen many people use the wrong program on many instances.
In some cases this is a matter of preference; by this I mean which program are you more proficient with using.
In other cases this is a matter of ignorance; a common lack of knowledge in regards of software applications, and this extends to even professional positions.
Check below to see how they compare...
- Both programs allow you to register, maintain, manipulate, and then print data...they're relatively inexpensive and universal software, for both businesses and personal uses.
- Both programs are great tools for managing data and performing calculations.
So the question remains, which program do I use?
Accurately this program is considered spreadsheet software, for novice users Excel is used to track basic info; such as employee schedules, names, phone numbers, and simple calculation inputs.
Yet for advanced Excel users, such as myself, Excel is an excellent tool for performing mass calculations and analyzing data on a large scale. By knowing how to create versatile formulas, utilizing Pivot Tables, and other features such as data validation and macros, Excel can accomplish nearly any task.
Examples of uses would be tracking employee 401K plans, figuring the weekly wages of your employees, and even personal uses like figuring a retirement plan...and all of this could be accomplished using a versatile worksheet, instead of creating a new one each time.
This program is considered a relational database, this means that data functions both independently and interdependently (using tables) to allow the database user to combine data from multiple sources and analyze and/or report information in almost limitless ways.
Access can store tons of data in different forms and yet still be intertwined for easy referencing and analyzing. Other types of relational databases are sites that reference keywords and display articles, etc. that contain the keywords (Google, Yahoo, and the biggest one - the internet), Access is just on a much smaller scale.
When they work best:
Excel functions best with calculations...Take it from any CPA or financial expert, spreadsheets were created to simplify and organize financial data. Using Access for calculations is like using a butcher's knife to butter your bread.
Access works best at storing vast amounts of info that have relational fields, this way you can easily reference the data and keep it maintained. For instance, if your storing peoples name, address, and phone number it might be best to just list it on Excel, or use your MS Word Mail Merge feature (which is ideal) but that's another story. However, if you plan to store additional information such as personal information, hobbies, job information, gift buying history, networking details, etc., which may apply to more than one contact, you will probably want to use Access.
A great thing to remember with software...Use the easiest and simplest program, as long as it accomplishes your goal!