Here are some tech questions that I don't really understand
May 21, 2010 9:03 AM Subscribe
No one here knows anything about databases or web stores, and our current ones are very bad. Do you know things?
posted by quadrilaterals to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
I started a new job about a month ago after Big Company bought Little Company. I work in the department that is now comprised of what was Little Company. LC holds training and compliance seminars internationally. These seminars vary in cost, length, and location. LC was owned by an incredibly nice older couple who didn't know how to use technology. What I am working with currently is Access 2003 and a basic website.
My tech ability is pretty standard for someone my age, I think. I have never done any programming except with Scratch (I know, not really programming). I am relatively good with Excel, and have about 2 years of website maintenance/management experience. I am very, very un-knowledgeable about Access; I don't even know how to say what I want.
So there are two main problems. We have spoken with tech about them but they are busy, and not quite sure (this is very different from what most of the company does).
1. The database
I have never worked in Access. I have used SLX and SalesForce, but not for anything like this. Access seems to be a clusterfuck that our tech dept doesn't know how to use. I suspect there may be a better database for our use.
The things I want it to do, it doesn't do. I am not sure if this is user ineptitude. We track four things - contacts (upwards of 22,000), sessions (1,000 and growing), hotels (~400), and the course catalog. These cross-reference each other (contacts come to the seminar, which takes place at a hotel and is a specific course).
Access also doesn't output what I would like. For example, it would be great if I could export an xls of who went to a seminar and if they have paid. I can't do that without deleting a billion extraneous columns. Or get a list of the email addresses of people attending a seminar. Instead, I have to print a list of attendees, and then go through the contacts form. Also, searching kind of sucks.
Is there a better database for our use? Or can Access be optimized to not be so dumb? If the latter is true, can I (a relatively intelligent person, I think) learn enough in the next month to fix it?
2. The website
The current website allows people to register with a form. Then, I manually input their data into Access and create and send invoices.
Tech pitched us a site based on Shopify. Unfortunately, it looks like the registrants would have to pay with credit cards with USD. This is problematic, as many of our registrants cannot do so.
What would be ideal is if, like an airline site, you could "reserve" a product (a seat in the seminar) and hold it for a few weeks. The admin could remove the hold and mark payment made. Or, if rather than using a credit card, you could select an alternate means of payment.
Are there any out-of-the-box sites that do this? Or do you know any work-arounds for Shopify?
3. The combination
It would make my life (and, in turn, everyone in my department's life) so much easier if the web forms used when registering for a course online could automatically pull to a database. This is my dream. No, I really had a dream about it. It was sad when I woke up.