A DIFFERENT Type Of Automation. The approach to spreadsheet automation that I refer to, is one that seeks to provide functional spreadsheet automation alternatives for ANY spreadsheet user task(s). Typically, solutions like this would require the developer to study existing manual data recording, analysis and report generation systems, then plan _ in consultation with users _ for incorporation of automation into the spreadsheet to replace them, where possible.
At times, they would prefer to click a button that says "Print ABC", or "Print XYZ" report, instead of having to crawl all over the huge spreadsheet(and get "lost" every now and then), to highlight and print different report pages. Using a custom built data entry form to make data entries into 14 different cells in different parts of a table(at the same time/with one click) would, for them, be "heaven" compared to making the entries one at a time.
Custom spreadsheet solutions which survive long after the developer has "left the scene", are often those which users accept because they discover it _ among other benefits _ makes their work quicker and easier to do. That is why the best person to develop such solutions tend to be one who works in that area, and is therefore familiar with the way the manual system operates. S/he would have an "insider's" perspective of the best way to introduce automation other users will readily adopt _ even as it solves the identified problem(s).
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.
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