From this point on, I will refer to only one of the above mentioned applications, because it is my preferred work environment. That is Microsoft Excel. I believe users of other spreadsheet applications will be able to adapt whatever I say from here for use in their own peculiar environments.
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.
In addition, an Excel VB developer( who in many cases will tend to be a user turned developer, and is therefore likely to easily see things from your perspective) _ unlike a programmer _ is more likely to be positively disposed to working with you to ensure the application meets your practical needs. S/he will readily understand that the final application is meant to help solve a real problem(s), and will therefore build it to match those expectations.
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.