A Fragmented Approach for QUESBMI


Some More Background.  One evening I was walking into the common office area that separated our offices from the hallway in the Lender School of Business Building.  I noticed Matt Frese toiling away on something.  We started talking and he said something like, "I really need to get some help from you.  I know you've seen this form for the QUESBMI Faculty Interests because you filled one out.  We're also developing forms for those starting or involved with their own small business and for potential investors."

So we chatted some as I gained an appreciation for why he was using the computers behind the counter.  He had an old IBM laptop running Windows 95 even though it was the fall of 1999.  It had always run real poorly even though he'd been required to purchase one through the school's laptop program.  I actually spent some time trying to do some things with Access on his laptop and gained even more appreciation for why Matt was using one of the computers behind the counter.

So we talked more and he decided to do an independent study/tutorial towards his MBA degree where he could learn much more about Access and work on this project.

But as we got talking more I soon realized that he was developing three entirely different databases.

  • one for faculty interests and experience
  • one for existing and potential small business owners
  • one for any other interested members in QUESBMI with a focus on attracting potential investors, or venture capitalists as they are often called

Even with his respect for me it took me some time to convince him he was much better off creating three different tables in the same database.  With his knowledge of Access he didn't even realize this was possible or why it might be better.

Can you think of some reasons why it would be better to have the information in one database?

  • all the data is in one database and it can more easily be copied or sent to others
  • some of those listed in any of the tables might also be listed in another table
  • all the forms, reports and queries would also be located in one database
  • other reasons?

So we started working on it.  But eventually it became clear that I was going to do most of the work.  In large part because his laptop was in such bad shape.  But also because he developed only a beginner's proficiency and never really grasped how queries and reports could be used.  As might not be too surprising, his forms tended to be somewhat distended in their appearance.

The Paper Form.  The first paper form that was sent out canvassing faculty about their interests and experience with small businesses looked like the following.  First we show page one of the form.



This was page two of the form.



Look at the variety of fields we have.  Some require text answers, some require boxes to be checked or left unchecked.

So Matt had started developing a separate database for each of his overall forms.  But I managed to talk him into organizing his information in a much less fragmented way.  This will be the topic of the next webpage.