If you or your organisation are still making use of a paper filing system to keep track of your critical information, it might be high time that you looked into converting a forest worth of paper into one of the most simple and flexible Database Management Systems (DBMS) available today.

If you currently make use of spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel, for data storage then it will be a very simple transition for you to Microsoft Access, which has the same 'look and feel' as most other Microsoft Office software, and which also integrates very smoothly with these.

Access makes use of the tables that will be familiar to you, if you are currently using Excel, for the storage, management, and the retrieval of data. You might well ask, 'Why, if I am comfortable using a spreadsheet, would I want to change to a database?" The answer to this question, in short, is that databases are in fact a more functional tool for data storage than spreadsheets, in that you can:
- Retrieve all records that match certain criteria
- Update records in bulk
- Cross-reference records in different tables
- Perform complex aggregate calculations

These are just a few of the tasks that Access will allow you to perform. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to perform these actions when using a spreadsheet. So, Access shows itself to be far more practical as a database solution. You might very well consider Access database training as an introduction to the programme, or to advance your knowledge if you are already familiar with it.

Below is a brief overview of the three major components that make up Microsoft Access, which are: Tables, Queries, and Reports. Tables are the framework for the storage of the information on the database. Queries refers to the ability to use Access to combine data from more than one table and place particular conditions on the data retrieved. Reports is the capability to quickly and efficiently produce attractively formatted summaries of data which is contained in multiple tables.

Reports allow for the inclusion of graphics, eye-catching formatting, as well as the numbering of pages. These tasks are all made manageable as Access comes equipped with an abundance of wizards and helpers (yes, like the animated paper-clip) that will help you at all stages along the way to the creation of a fully operative database.

Another one of the many advantages of Microsoft Access is its ability to merge with SQL Server, which is Microsoft's professional database product for servers. The benefit of this is that if your organisation makes use of SQL Server you will be able to retrieve and manage data that is stored on the main server within the Access environment.