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.
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.
To elaborate further: A one_page Variable Costs Analysis report sheet automatically generated by the custom spreadsheet application I earlier described, was a powerful tool used by top management to quickly assess performances of individual breweries. Among other benefits, the report made it quite easy to realistically compare sister breweries in different locations(even across countries) based on common denominators. Apart from summarising brewing/packaging materials in two groups _
In effect what I am saying is that companies which get the most value from spreadsheet automation(including using it to avoid expenditure on less adaptable commercial off the shelf applications) will be those which empower their users to routinely generate "in house" solutions. In such companies, you will find that only when the requirement becomes considerably specialised or complex, does the IT department get called upon to develop or purchase software solutions for user departments or functions with significant data recording and analysis needs.