The visiting head of the technical function only needed to look at the most recently plotted point on the chart (relative to preceding ones) for a Key Performance Indicator like. Cost per Hectolitres brewed(One Hectolitre = 100 Litres), to know if the brewery had stayed within the approved upper limit of spend(plotted as a straight line target across the same period) or not. Discussions would then take place based on identified "Exceptions"(which could be "good" e.g. savings made or "bad" e.g. monetary loss due to materials over_used), and "Actions To Be Taken" to correct or maintain observed performances agreed upon.
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.
It's not enough to have a professional with the technical skills to solve your problem. s/he also needs to have the right attitude and background/experience _ else the relationship will not work. This is where an Excel VB resource is more likely to add value to you. Most Excel VB Developers have backgrounds in management, accounting, engineering and other fields, which further equips them to be useful to you in "thinking up" better ways to apply your spreadsheet automation to get the most value for your business. You therefore need to choose the right developer, with the appropriate background to match your needs.
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.