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.
For instance if a company had five drink brands in the market but notices that Brand A, which has a profit margin of at least twice the others is in greatest demand, they could (a) focus production efforts on that brand, so that more bottles go out to trade (b) Apply Best Practice/Continuous Improvement initiatives that would result in lower costs of producing each bottle of Brand A so that even though the market price remains fixed, the company is able to earn increasing profit margins per bottle.
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.
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.