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We need to convert our Professionals list that is specific to our nonprofit into a searchable database. The database needs to be searchable by profession, by state, by town, by name etc. Something like one would use when looking for a doctor through their medical insurance company. Presently, everything is logged into an excel workbook with multiple sheets for each professional category. We need something that is a bit more efficient and easy for us to upload new professionals to.
It's hard to recommend a solution when your needs seem to be so simple. If you put all the professionals into a single sheet there would be no problem with searching for anything. The same would be true for importing the list into Word, Access, or any database application.
Can share what else the software MUST do and any things that it would be NICE to do? I think then you can get some great recommendations.
We already have it in an excel sheet but this is a problem because we really cannot lock it off from changes and if we do, it is then not searchable. Also, using the excel sheet makes it difficult because we have so many categories that the professionals are separated by that if someone is not proficient with Excel, they have a hard time using it.
We want this to be seamless for the user. We want it to be like when you go online to your medical insurance company to look for a specialist, you can search for that specialty, in your state etc. We need one large database that the professionals can be listed under for each of their expertise and searchable by either specialty, state, or name or all of it.
What is sounds like to me, you are really looking for more of a Contact Management software. Something like a CRM would do the trick. ACT!, Quickbase, Salesforce, etc, though they are an overkill for what you are trying to do.
Another way to go is to move these contacts into Outlook format. Make it a public shared contacts list that will show up in everyone's Outlook. Quick, easy, free and searchable.
We have over 1000 names for over some 12 different categories. I also do NOT use Outlook as I am on a mac and outlook sucks in my opinion. Not userfriendly at all.
Please go back to the response you got from Christian_SEO -- you should start by documenting and prioritizing your needs. As he suggested, these projects are never as simple as it seems. We now know it needs to be Mac compatible. Some other typical issues:
There are tons of options. Some are based on FileMaker so they run on Macs, some are in the cloud so they run on pretty much everything, and many would custom.
RobertForum Moderator Robert L. Weiner ConsultingStrategic Technology Advisors to Nonprofit and Educational Organizationsrobert [AT] rlweiner [DOT] comwww.rlweiner.com
I understand it's a matter of personal preference, but in my expert opinion it's the MAC that's not professional user friendly.
But I do agree that Outlook for MAC sucks if you are not using Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 for your email, bit of which I highly recommend, especially considering it's practically free for non-profits.
You could have a public list of contacts shared throughout organization, fully accessible in any Outlook or over the web from any computer including MAC, searchable, categorized, etc.
But if this is not the way you prefer to go I recommend looking for a MAC contact management software instead. Any database-related development will cost you many thousands to create, implement and maintain. Cloud-based CRM will cost you monthly fee per user and can also get expensive over time
Have you tried using the filter functions in Excel? Unless I am missing something, it sounds like all of these tables/worksheets have the same columns. If you put them in one worksheet and added a professional category column, then you could use the filter and sort functions to create lists organized by various columns and their contents.
You could copy the results of the filtering to use for mailmerge, etc. if that helps?
You could generate a form to load new professionals into the worksheet.
You could create a summary worksheet that maintain status of the main worksheet if that is of interest.
If your needs are more complex, perhaps you could explain in a little more detail?
We are already have things divided up. Some of these people are in more than one category and as such there is also 13 caterogies so this is not what we are looking for as it would make the excel sheet so large on one page that it would be difficult to use. We need a database like one uses to lookup doctors in their area through their medical insurance company.
Thanks for trying.
Are you looking for an application or a database software tool? Your last sentence suggest maybe you simply want an application (such as a webpage) that allows you to perform predefined searches and reports??
Versus a database tool such as Access that allows the user to create queries or reports but requires more understanding of how to get the tool to do what you want.
Unfortunately, Access is NOT made for Apple Computers so cannot use it. If I could do this as a webpage that allows you to perform a predefined search, that would be great.
This sounds similar to what I am rebuilding here in FileMaker. FileMaker won as the database tool here because of being Apple friendly. FileMaker can also import Excel content to a table (once you set it up) easily. However, nothing is so simple if you don't have dedicated IT resources for it. There are dozens of online tools which can import and would be platform agnostic. Getting crystal clear on requirements, to echo good advice here, is imperative.
Best of luck
Welcome to TechSoup.
It looks like you work for a marketing firm. Have you used QuickBase yourself or are they a client? If you've used it, what kinds of projects did you use it for?
Do NOT underestimate the time for the second-to-last item, the project management. This is often a deal-breaker for small organizations that are already stretched. It will be much larger than you estimate.
I find it frustrating when you ask how to do X, and people tell you do Y instead. You need a database, but your needs are minimal currently. You want a database and user interface that can be added to or changed in the future. There are numerous combination of software to do this (i.e. PHP/MySQL), but they all would require a programmer.
Watch out for anybody telling you they can do this for less than $1000. Development with proper procedures and proper testing is much better than a programmer in another country or a young "I can code" kid. In other words, what you want is simple but still requires some of the same work that would go into any system large or small.
We quite frequently are asked to come in and redo a system that was thrown together -- but the client wouldn't know that until much later. We joke in the office "prodessionals - call us now or you will call us later."
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