Managing data effectively is essential for every business, large or small. From tracking the success of your marketing efforts to keeping up with important personnel and training information, keeping accurate business records and being able to quickly generate accurate reports are necessary for operations and managerial decision making.
Depending on the industry you are in and the type of reporting requirements your business has, an off-the-shelf data management system designed specifically for your type of business might be sufficient for your needs. However, if you are in a niche business, you probably need a custom database to satisfy all of your record keeping and reporting requirements.
Off-the-shelf database systems are very general in nature, providing what you might call a "shotgun" approach to data management. Rather than being customized to a particular company's needs, these types of systems offer "catch-all" tracking and reporting. For example, a mass marketed database system will likely have many more data entry fields that you need, yet will lack some fields that are necessary
Additionally, even though off-the-shelf systems have reporting features, the available reports aren't likely to provide the exact information that you need. Many companies that don't have custom systems waste time doing double data entry and exporting information from multiple reports into spreadsheets, then performing complicated calculations just to get the information they need to make critical business decisions.
With a custom database system, however, you can commission a system that meets your precise needs. A skilled database developer will spend time getting to know your business and developing a solid understanding of your company's data management needs in order to come up with a streamlined solution for your organization. A skilled developer will create tables, forms, and reports that are specific to how your business operates
Getting a custom database does not have to be an expensive proposition. In many cases, commissioning a system that is specific to your needs is much less costly that purchasing an off-the-shelf system that won't even fully meet your needs. One of the great things about properly designed customized database systems is the fact that they are not an "all or nothing" proposition. A custom system can grow with you. Instead of battling with a system that doesn't meet your needs, focus on getting a basic system that provides you with the information you need now. Once you have the basic system in place, you can always have your developer add features as the need arises.