Read "Guide: No Thanks, I'll Use a Spreadsheet" in Ch. 5 of MIS Essentials. To what extent do you agree with the opinions presented? To what extent are the concerns expressed justified? To what extent might they be due to other factors? What problems do you see with the way that the car salesperson stores address data? Considering the limited information in this scenario, do you think a database or a spreadsheet is a better solution? Defend your response.
“I’m not buying all this stuff about databases. I’ve tried them and they’re a pain—way
too complicated to set up, and most of the time, a spreadsheet works just as well. We
had one project at the car dealership that seemed pretty simple to me: We wanted to
keep track of customers and the models of used cars they were interested in. Then,
when we got a car on the lot, we could query the database to see who wanted a car
of that type and generate a letter to them.
“It took forever to build that system, and it never did work right. We hired
three different consultants, and the last one finally did get it to work. But it was
so complicated to produce the letters. You had to query the data in Access to
generate some kind of file, then open Word, then go through some mumbo
jumbo using mail/merge to cause Word to find the letter and put all the Access
data in the right spot. I once printed over 200 letters and had the name in the
address spot and the address in the name spot and no date. And it took me over
an hour to do even that. I just wanted to do the query and push a button to get my
letters generated. I gave up. Some of the salespeople are still trying to use it, but
“No, unless you are getting billions in government bailouts, I wouldn’t mess with
a database. You have to have professional IS people to create it and keep it running.
Besides, I don’t really want to share my data with anyone. I work pretty hard to
develop my client list. Why would I want to give it away?
“My motto is, ‘Keep it simple.’ I use an Excel spreadsheet with four columns:
Name, Phone Number, Car Interests, and Notes. When I get a new customer, I enter
the name and phone number, and then I put the make and model of cars they like
in the Car Interests column. Anything else that I think is important I put in the Notes
column—extra phone numbers, address data if I have it, email addresses, spouse
names, last time I called them, etc. The system isn’t fancy, but it works fine.
“When I want to find something, I use Excel’s Data Filter. I can usually get what I
need. Of course, I still can’t send form letters, but it really doesn’t matter. I get most
most of my sales using the phone, anyway.