In all aspects of life filling in forms is one of the most tedious and soul destroying of activities. If you have multiple forms to complete you end up entering the same information over and over again until the data in question becomes almost meaningless. What is more, if you are a manager in a relatively large organisation the chances are you will be spending an increasing amount of your time engaged in this task. But it does not have to be this way. There is now a feature in Microsoft Access 2007 which allows you to quickly and simply assimilate data from a third party. It does this in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook via email.

The first thing you will need to do to utilise this facility is to create a suitable database for your requirements on Access. Then, using the Collect Data through Email Messages wizard, generate a data entry form to send along with the email. This wizard will ask you to choose between collecting new information or updating existing data as well as selecting the fields of information that are to be included within the form.

At this point we should look at some of the conditions of creating a data entry form. There are two possible options when generating this form; to create it in HTML or using Microsoft InfoPath. HTML will produce a perfectly serviceable form but there are certain features within InfoPath - offline completion, inbuilt validity checks, the ability to incorporate a digital signature - that can prove useful for this type of activity. However, not all of your recipients may have InfoPath downloaded, which means that they would not be able to respond to a form sent in such a format. Therefore HTML is still the standard for data entry forms sent in this fashion.

After you have chosen between HTML and InfoPath and selected the fields for inclusion in your database, you are faced with a key decision. This is whether to automatically or manually import the information from the form into your database. This importing is the end goal of the entire operation; whatever data your recipient enters into the form will be added to your Access database when the email is returned.

At first glance the choice appears to be a no-brainer. Isn't manual importing exactly what you wanted to avoid by embarking on this exercise? Surely automatic importing is the hassle free option for everyone? Well, yes and no. Manual importing in this context does not mean painstakingly entering all the data as before, it just means choosing which recipients' data to include rather than blindly accepting forms from all comers. The insertion of the data is still just a click away. The type of project that you are working on will determine which option you go for.

There are many more customizing options within the Collect Data through Email wizard that can aid and refine your enquiries. For a full understanding of exactly what else you can achieve through Access it is advisable to enrol on a training course so that you can make professional life infinitely more stress free.