During your Access development project, it is important that you identify mission-critical Access applications. These are the Access databases that are crucial to the success of your project and your business as a whole. If these applications are not functioning properly and you have no idea how to fix the issue, it could create serious productivity issues in your business. 

To stop this from happening, we have put together some simple steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem and fix it.

Steps to identify mission-critical applications

How do you identify a mission-critical application in the first place and what makes it different from the rest of your Access applications? Follow these basic steps to work out what your mission-critical applications are.

  1. Create an inventory of all Access files on your network that end with ACCDB. This is the default file type for Access files.
  2. Sort the list by last modified date to see which of these Access files you are using regularly and which have not been accessed for a long time. The data files (ending in BE) are likely to have been accessed more recently than the programming files.
  3. Once you have an organized list, take this to each department and ask them for more information on what the databases are for and who the author and owners are. Get them to clarify which they think are mission-critical and which are not.

If you take these steps, you can identify all of the mission-critical applications that are being developed during your project. Now, there are certain practices you should follow to ensure that these applications are running as they should.

Best practices for mission-critical applications

  • Split each database into a Front End and a Back End – The Front End containing the code for the application is stored locally on each user’s PC. The Back End with the raw data should be stored on your network and backed up every night.
  • Create a database diagram for every single database, if you don’t already have them.
  • Document the VBA and Macro code thoroughly.
  • Document all changes to the system and sort them by date and version. Keep this information in a table.
  • Add the version and issue date to the startup form.

As well as these basic practices, you also need to speak with the owner and author of the database and ask a few key questions: 

  • Why is the database mission-critical?
  • Why are existing enterprise systems not adequate?
  • Are there bugs or speed issues affecting the system right now? Are there likely to be similar problems as the system grows? Bear in mind that Access has a 2GB size limit and applications slow down as you get close to this.

Perform ongoing maintenance 

Managing your mission-critical applications properly means performing ongoing maintenance to avoid bugs. Ideally, you should perform a routine compact and repair on your Back End every 3 or 6 months. You should also perform maintenance whenever you notice any issues with the database, no matter how minor.

Support employees

Access is a powerful tool when it is used to its full potential. Your employees will be working with Access indefinitely, so support them as they learn how to use mission-critical applications and develop them in the future.

If you identify a mission-critical application when it goes wrong or a key developer leaves the business, it’s already too late. The damage to your business is done and productivity is severely impacted. But if your IT team is productive and they work across departments to identify and manage mission-critical Access applications, your business can continue reaping the benefits of Access for years to come.

Looking for help with managing mission critical applications in Microsoft Access?

Get in touch today to discuss your new and existing Access projects with our experienced team. We can give you the advice that you need to manage your mission-critical applications in the most efficient way possible, so Microsoft Access works for your business.


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