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.
Deciding What Spreadsheet Application To Use. This would ultimately be up to you. The big "fight" has always been between Lotus 1θι and Microsoft Excel. I started out with Lotus 1θι back in 1993 and learnt Lotus Macros programming(via self_tutoring). I eventually used this skill to develop _ in my free time _ various custom spreadsheet solutions(that were formally adopted for use in the departments I worked in as a brewer/manager in Guinness), before switching to Microsoft Excel in 2001. Subsequently, I developed my Excel Visual Basic spreadsheet programming skills (also via self_tutoring), because the company had chosen to adopt MS Office during the roll over to year 2000.
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.
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!