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.
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.
I believe using either of these two applications should not pose any problems for implementing your spreadsheet automation ideas. This is because both have always been "friendly", towards making it easy for users to get more functionality out of them by way of custom programming.
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!
examples of spreadsheet packages