1. The Pareto Principle _ Using spreadsheet tracking, you can easily apply the Pareto principle in deciding which of your income sources and expense channels(i.e. products and services sales) to focus on in order to maximize profits. Considering that you are most likely to use the same marketing/sales resources to serve your customers, it only follows that if you focus on your biggest margin selling products/services, you will get increased profits at more or less the same cost.
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!
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.
Variable Costs Control/Reduction was a strategy that worked extremely well for the company. Most memorable for me as a brewer, was the manner in which huge monetary savings/profit gains were made by successfully implementing variable cost reduction initiatives. For instance, a brewing ingredient switch was made to a more readily available local alternative which was many times cheaper, resulting in phenomenal savings and progressively increasing profit earnings even though the price of beer produced was not raised. This practice was routinely applied across the brewing and packaging processes in line with a well thought out plan.