This last point in my opinion is ONE major benefit you must seek to extract, if you choose to engage the services of a developer. S/he should be able to help you develop (in_house) expertise needed to maintain the application AFTER s/he is gone. If you fail to ensure this, all your cost_savings from using the application might end up being spent paying the developer to maintain the application over time in the future!
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 80ᚼ Pareto principle is based on Pareto's theory that 80% of the results one gets in a particular endeavour will be mainly due to 20% of areas to which one has applied efforts. In business this principle has been found to be true. Your data, properly converted into appropriate performance indicators, will show you where your largest margins come from. You can then channel more time and effort in that direction.
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.
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