The assignment was not an accident. Before being redeployed to Benin brewery, I had been involved in "validating" the numerous complex formulas in the custom Lotus 1θι spreadsheet application during its development. The author _ Richard Chambers _ was at the time in charge(as Training Coordinator) of training new entrants, and upon discovering my keen interest in learning, often gave me his laptop to "proof" formulas, links etc. It was he who had told his counterpart in Benin brewery(Joe Sheehy) that I could help out with a problem they were having using the application. And I did resolve the problem _ resulting in my subsequently becoming responsible for the reports collation using the application.
In my article titled You Can Increase Your Profits Without Changing Your Prices, I ended with the following summary: If You Remember Nothing Else, Remember The Following: 1. One good way to maintain and/or significantly increase your profits without raising your prices, is to reduce your Variable Costs(VCs). 2. You can reduce your variable costs by marketing more efficiently (getting more customers at lesser cost, AND maintaining them at lower expense). I once read an article that proposed a new parameter COCS: Cost Of Customers Sold or Served). This could be adopted as a Key Performance Indicator(KPI). 3. You can also reduce your variable costs by innovating more(i.e. developing greater efficiency in your routine internal operations and/or product/service delivery). That way, you would be able to produce/deliver more products and/or services with less effort, in less time, and using less resources. All of these would imply LOWER expenses/costs, leading to INCREASED profit retention per unit of product/service sold. 4. There is saying that: "You cannot manage something, if you do not measure it. Nor can you measure it, if you do not record it". Spreadsheet tracking will help you conveniently implement and sustain the process of monitoring, controlling and/or reducing your VCs. You will need to do this so as to constantly evaluate progress of your VC monitoring/control and reduction initiatives.
The savings _ from using your "in house" expertise _ in terms of money and man_hours alone, will quickly justify the investment you make in "developing the needed skills" _ especially, when you compare what you spend with the cost of purchasing a commercial software application _ or even engaging the services of an Excel VB developer.
Variable Costs Control/Reduction was a strategy that worked extremely well for the company. Most memorable for me as a brewer, was the manner in which huge monetary savings/profit gains were made by successfully implementing variable cost reduction initiatives. For instance, a brewing ingredient switch was made to a more readily available local alternative which was many times cheaper, resulting in phenomenal savings and progressively increasing profit earnings even though the price of beer produced was not raised. This practice was routinely applied across the brewing and packaging processes in line with a well thought out plan.