|Alexis Brownstein, Proprietor of Dr. Database|
Alexis Brownstein, proprietor of Dr. Database LLC, helps customers design automated documents that integrate the functionality of Microsoft Access, Microsoft Word, and other software solutions. She’s our guest on the CompuSchmoozeTM podcast this week.
Download the podcast file here (29mb stereo MP3 file, 20:36 length).
This podcast also includes information about the New Jersey Podcasters Association.
Here’s the text of the related “CompuSchmoozeTM” column as it appears in the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey in March:
CompuSchmooze March 2006: Dr. Database Prescribes Data Management Advice
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2006 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
The Internet dot-com bubble that burst a few years ago created some interesting niche opportunities for technology professionals, and in the next two columns, were going to take a look at how these local folks turned their computer expertise into successful entrepreneurial business models.
Alexis Brownstein of Mt. Laurel didnt start her business career intending to help clients resuscitate their databases, or prescribing software programming for ailing business processes.
It wasnt until after completing an undergraduate degree in French, and getting midway through her MBA studies, that she realized she wanted to get involved in working with computers and software. Even while she was completing her MBA, she took courses about computers, and spent several years as an in-house consultant for a manufacturing software program.
Now, as Dr. Database, her firm helps clients more efficiently use software tools, by customizing the automated features built into the Microsoft Office suite of programs and other software packages which most people dont even know are there.
Firms often use Access databases to track their customer information, but then retype the same data into Excel spreadsheets or Word documents for other uses like invoices, correspondence or reports. By understanding each firms workflow, Alexis is able to write programming code, using Microsofts Visual Basic programming language, to streamline a customers data entry process. Data entered in Access can easily be transferred to other documents, reducing the number of times it gets typed, and thus reducing errors.
Many users dont understand database design and dont take advantage of the sophisticated capabilities presented by programs like Microsoft Access, Alexis said.
She decided to start her own business when she realized that her three-year-old son was spending a large chunk of the day in daycare. I decided to go out on my own and have a little more control over my schedule, she said. It was a life choice.
An active member of the Jewish Business Network of Southern New Jersey, formerly the Cherry Hill Jewish Business Network, Alexis has designed contact management database capabilities for the Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation, a sponsor of the Jewish Business Network.
Working with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, the programs that form Microsoft Office (office.microsoft.com), Alexis helps customers design documents that automatically take advantage of these programs ability to share data. For example, one recent project involved creating a lesson plan application for a school for the disabled, where each lesson plan needs to have the teachers name and room number on every page.
The automation features that Alexis created for the school allow teachers to fill in a simple form, and that data is used to create the page headers. The teachers dont need to know how to use that particular feature of Word, she explained.
Another of Alexis customers is creating appraisals of merchandise for use inauctions. With programming that Alexis designed, the company now enters the data in Access, and automatically creates a Word-based report for its clients that can be emailed to them.
Dr. Database also helps clients integrate and share data among such applications as Oracle and SQL Server, two major industrial-strength database systems; and Quickens QuickBooks accounting software. She also trains users on Act!, a customer relationship management system, and other office software.
Among the web resources she relies on for her business is Tek-Tips, a site that lets programmers exchange ideas and techniques for customizing many popular programs, including Crystal Reports, a program for extracting database information in attractively designed report formats.
Her other clients include a commercial and residential air purification supplier, a lead-generation firm for marketers, a mortgage company, and a web database project for a computer printer and printer service company.