If you've yet to use Microsoft Access to organise data held in your company, then the festive period can be an example of the push you need to consider utilising the programme.

Giving information a central landing pad is the reason why many companies opt for this programme. The convenience of going to just one location to find data convinces many to shed outdated systems and choose a modern-day method of storing info. But storage is just one advantage of having a computerised method of gathering facts and figures.

Aside from giving you a secure location for data, that won't degrade like paper records, applications like Access give you more power over how you can manipulate and store the information concerned. If you're already using programmes such as Excel, then you may have a lot of data recorded but can't really transform it in the way that you'd like. For example, as your customer numbers increase, it may become necessary to store information about their orders, as well as their addresses, as this can help process sales more quickly and reveal purchasing trends.

Having this data stored in different tables means it could prove time consuming when it comes to locating contact details and ordering future supplies, if trends indicate a certain product is particularly popular with specific clients. The festive season tends to be a busy period for many retailers and businesses, this combined with staff taking time off means you may need to harness the power of some applications at this time. As mentioned earlier, if you need to call up customer files and add orders or prepare invoices it would take a considerable time to go from table to table to see who requires what, when and where.

Microsoft Access allows you to create reports that blend together all the information you need by taking it from the fields required. Reports are a good way to show some of the data held in your tables, getting you straight to the info required. So if you want to see one document revealing customer names, addresses, present and past orders, then this is possible.

Also ahead of the festive break, you may want to increase stocks of those items that are in demand. Reports see you being able to pinpoint which of your products tend to sell well with particular clients. Additionally, if this is information that you'd like to share with other colleagues or present at meetings, then Access reports allow you to create eye-catching graphics that reveal pertinent data.

As well as getting organised ahead of busy periods and recording what products clients require, it's imperative the goods are delivered to the correct address. Postal services are often under pressure over holidays to get many items to consumers. If your company accidentally mails the wrong item to a customer, there's a chance they won't receive the correct purchases until after the break has passed.

To avoid this, you're free to use Access to create address labels with the help of the Label Wizard. This involves you creating a different kind of report that shows the necessary contact details of the customer concerned, so goods arrive when and where they should.

A further advantage to this, is that if customers move and their details needs to be updated, you simply have to locate the table holding this information and change it. When you later gather the contact details into a report the updated address will show.