Recommendation for database for field workers
We are a nonprofit that manages volunteers. What Goldmine-like relational
database can you recommend that allows field workers to manage the data
offline and then sync with the main database when they can get online? We do
not want a full Web database and we want one that does not cost much for our
volunteer field workers.
You raise a curious set of requirements...low cost, non web-based, and database synchronization. The problem with this scenario is that, one way or the other, you are going to have to pay the piper. You see, database synchronization and team computing requires a central database, a modem pool or network, and synchronization software. Further, the industry has been moving away from database synchronization because of its demanding support issues (read expensive to maintain and difficult to support). Instead, many are now turning to web and/or wireless access (each with its own support and maintenance cost considerations). I'm afraid that your desired solution doesn't exist at the cost you probably have in mind. So, my best advice is to look at one of the hosted web solutions, perhaps Upshot.com, Salesnet.com, or Salesforce.com. With a hosted web CRM application there's no software to buy, your database will be maintained and protected by experts, new users can be set-up on the fly, and the costs are relatively inexpensive, predictable, and controllable.
This was first published in October 2003