I'm the fire chief in a rural non-profit VFD (and business data analyst in my day job), and I'm looking to build a better system than stacks of paper in filing cabinets.

I'd like to use the standard office suite products (downloaded windows/mobile apps, not browser-based), but I'm also looking to build a could-based incident log/personnel/asset management system with simple input forms and reporting. I started with google forms, but the forms are a little too simplistic, and the multiple spreadsheet backend doesn't do what I need.

As a development template, I've built out a relational DB and some forms and report queries in MS Access on my personal computer, but I'm not sure which Microsoft package gets me from there to where I want to be. I'd like to migrate this to a could-based SQL database and web app. Many moons ago I developed an intranet site for a previous employer using the older model of on-prem SQL and IIS servers, and visual studio to build the site and forms, but that was in a large corporate environment. We don't have all that infrastructure at the fire station, and my experience with intranet development was long before things like Azure, PowerApps, PowerBI, SharePoint, etc existed at all. I also can't dedicate the time to build everything from scratch in VS, so a low-code option like PowerApps is very appealing.

My desired end-state is for my firefighters and admin staff to be able to use either the dept-owned tablets or laptop computers, and maybe their personal phones, to access a variety of forms for entering fire incident reports, training logs, equipment inventory, apparatus maintenance, etc. I also need the officers to be able to run reports and do some simple quantitative analysis of the data. I would also like to maintain a file repository for training materials, SOPs, policies, etc, and I think OneDrive can meet those needs. I figure I'll have about 25 users (of the forms and reports), and two of us doing dev and admin work.

It seems like between Office 365, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Azure SQL and web apps, or some other Buzzword 365 offering, there is a solution with the correct components, but I can't differentiate between them enough to know which is the right fit for this application.

Any help steering me toward an appropriate solution would be greatly appreciated!


Since you are already familiar with MS Acces you might want to look into have an MS Access front end connected to SQL Server tables in the cloud.  Here is a link to a discussion from FMS Inc on how this might work.

Microsoft Access and Cloud Computing with SQL Azure Databases (Linking to SQL Server Tables in the Cloud) (fmsinc.com)