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!
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.
So, (when considering the automation I speak about) do not think about spreadsheet documents containing one or two click_able buttons that allow a user print a page or copy some cells from one sheet to another. Instead, I want you to picture an application(or Entreprise Information System) that customises the appearance of your spreadsheet workspace(to take advantage of maximum screen capital available on your PC), and offers you custom "floating" data entry forms.
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.
examples of spreadsheet packages