My parents own a small manufacturing business that needs a solution for tracking parts and information about those parts... for example, if someone called in with a serial number they need to know when it was made, who made it, when it was sold, etc... what do most small companies use for this? Is there software out there that helps with this, or should they just use a spreadsheet?
Basically you need a database. Excel might do the job for a while, but it'll get messy and very large in very little time. I would recommend using a database. You could start with something like Access (which will let you make forms) or MySQL if you want a free DB, but I don't know what you can get for creating forms for MySQL. SQL Server would be my choice, and there is a free Express version for up to 5 users and reasonable size of data, with seamless upgrade to the full SQL Server should you ever need it.
Then the other option of course it to go on-line with something like Google docs.
There are so many options that I think you might get better answers if you can specify what inputs, how frequently, how many PCs are involved, whether they are all in one geographical location, how many types of lookup are there, and whether they want other reports from the system, such as finding all parts from a particular provider or from a specified batch.