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.
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.
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.