Consider what each person in your company wants to do with the information. For example, will you need a phone list of your customers? A report of which customers bought which products? A mailing list to send postcards or newsletters? Based on how you will use the database, create and add fields to track information. Remember, a practical, simple, and flexible database comes not from a computer program, but from people who understand the importance of gathering information, who think ahead about how the data will be used, and who are dedicated to keeping the information up-to-date.
Everyone at your business should contribute information for the database. However, consider assigning just one person the responsibility of inputting, changing, or deleting information to the database. This cuts down on duplicate records, information conflicts, etc. If more than one person is inputting information, you need to create a category that tracks who made each entry.
While one person may be in charge of the database, everyone on staff should have access to looking at and using the information.
You might consider hiring an outside consultant to help you create your database. But if at all possible, have the person on your team who is going to be using it most participate in the design process. Select the simplest software package that’s flexible enough for your current and future needs. Be sure to get the software training you need.
The more separate databases you create, the harder it is to cross-reference information. If a customer moves, you might have to change his or her information on several separate databases. It's just not time- or cost-effective. Set up just one database for tracking and marketing to your customers. Keep in mind that your accounting staff may need their own database for tracking vendors, bills, and payroll.
The goal is to have your database constantly grow. Anyone who voices an interest in your business – by calling, coming to a sale, requesting information, etc. – should be added to the database. Keep adding new information and updates in a timely manner.
Consider having security passwords for different levels of use (one for inputting information, one for designing screens, one for viewing confidential information, etc.). This ensures confidentiality as needed, and prevents staff members who don't know how to use the system from making unintentional, but costly, mistakes.