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Database vs. spreadsheet

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  • Database vs. spreadsheet

    I have heard alot of talk about spreadsheet templates for estimating, but there has not been much said about using database programs, I down loaded Jerralds File Maker beta program and liked it. I perform a wide variety of services and like everyone else I'm tring to steamline the process. Does anyone else use a database? What are the pros and cons? What do you guys think?

    Duane

  • #2
    Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

    Duane-

    Databases are an excellent choice, if you can find one that does what you want. There's only two problems I have with them:

    First- the reporting and analysis. To create a report in a database, you either need to use a pre-loaded format, or "build" a new report- much more work than a spreadsheet. With a spreadsheet, I can just pop formulas in to manipulate the data anyway I need to.

    Second- if I need to blow out an estimate quickly, using items that aren't in my database, I need to "create" those items, one by one. With a spreadsheet, I just enter the info in the rows, copy the calculation formulas down, and I'm done. The advantage of the database is, once you've entered those items once, they're in there for good.

    As someone who uses Excel for the most part, but is also getting some stuff going in Timberline (The grand-daddy, $6,000 database program), I'd say they both have their place. The spreadsheets are just simpler to get your feet wet.

    Bob

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    • #3
      The Simplified Estimating Worksheet

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      • #4
        Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

        I like using a data base. I made my own so it can give me the details I want. My data base gives me a printable scope of work document with all the details of price, quantity, and specs. I can change reports to show as much detail as I want. I would never go back to a spreadsheet format.

        Darrell

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        • #5
          Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

          Darrell, what did you use? FileMaker or MS Access? Or maybe something else altogether? Just wondering. But glad you voted Database in this spreadsheet contractor world we're in here. Be sure to vote often.

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          • #6
            Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

            Jerrald-

            I use the database on Appleworks for the Macintosh.

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            • #7
              Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

              Oh geez....lol.

              Jerry-

              It's not my intent to battle it out either- your point about having that "starting point" to work from is the key to database usage. The more reports you have, and structure that's been created, the better. That's the one thing I like about spreadsheets- there's not as much to "develop". Given my druthers, I'd go database too- but it would be MY database system- which I never have the time or inclination to write. Hence, I'm waiting for yours....lol.

              Bob

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              • #8
                Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                Darrell, very kool. Another question for you (from a fellow Mac User) while I don't have AppleWorks I had heard that it comes with FAXstf as part of the bundle. Is that true? I got a friend I'm trying to convince to go Mac and faxing was something that did come up. And are you by any chance on the OSX Jaguar operating system ?

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                • #9
                  Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                  Thanks for your input, I do agree database programs are a little more involved than spreadsheets, and as I was planning a spreadsheet system I realized how many different sheet I would have, given how many different jobs we perform, there has to be a better way. I have the Craftsman cd program and checked out Hometech which are databases but I don't trust their numbers and they don't have enough listings and info, they of course can be customized but if I'm going to take the time to do that I'd like a better system to start with.
                  Jerrald I look forward to seeing the completed version of your system, and I appreciate the thought you put into the subject, you are a "thinking man".
                  Bob, you raise some good points, It would take some time to build such a system, I just keep hoping one of you gurus would develop one that fits my needs, hint, hint, lol...
                  Duane

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                  • #10
                    Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                    Duane-

                    I'll see if I can work on it during the free time that I have between midnight and 6am....lol.

                    Bob

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                    • #11
                      Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                      Duane since I've got one contractor friend who still insists on using a spreadsheet for that "coming soon" version I referred to I designed and scripted a button into the CostBook that will also copy the data with tab breaks between the values so that the values from it can then be pasted directly into an Excel spreadsheet instead of the estimate sheet that I made part of the solution.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                        FWIW, the best learning tool for databases that I've come across is Dezignformysql, free from Datanamics, 1.3Mb in size, http://www.datanamic.com/download/dezignformysql.zip

                        SamT


                        http://www.datanamic.com/download/dezignformysql.z

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                        • #13
                          Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                          We use a database for our company. It generates useful reports based on a lot of information entered at various times by various people. You can't beat it for keeping tabs on current jobs.

                          BUT, for estimating, I use spreadsheets. I've been using them since before we got the database software and I can't make the switch. They're more versitile and powerful than databases. Once a contract is signed we tranfer the estimate into the database. BTW, my partner estimates in the database.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                            Jerrald-

                            No faxstf isn't bundled with apple works. the cost is $80 dollors. Don't let the cost fool you. It's an excellent program. You can send an estimate report via email if your want. You could also use efax if you wanted to fax it. OS X jaguar is awesome. I run out of words to describe this operating system. It's what we dreamed of 15-20 years ago.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Database vs. spreadsheet

                              Darrell I have FAXstf and I paid the $80. It just I had heard that FAXstf was part o the AppleWorks bundle. Appleworks did not come loaded on any of my Macs when I got them so that's why I was asking.

                              I actually fax very very rarely now. I hate faxes. Fax needed to be manually transcribed when you get them. I absolutely 100% prefer digital copy either e-mail or computer documents. That way I can copy and paste data from the e-mail or document straight into my own programs.

                              The reason I developed that Simplified Estimating Worksheet was so that I could give it to the subs I was working with and they could then estimate there scope of the projects I was looking at. And then I could import the data from their application directly into my own master database application and I'd have their data as part of my historical data without any real data entry on my part. It just streamlined my procedures making my record keeping easier.

                              I was telling Bob just the other week I had my first forced restart of OSX just the other week when I got stuck while in Safari and I couldn't force quit out of it. I installed OSX last September. Six months and that's been the only blink of trouble I've experienced. Yeah it is pretty kool huh.

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