Excel Works Ltd - Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet & VBA Consultancy
Bespoke Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Development & VBA Programming
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Hiring an Excel/VBA consultant/developer

Hello, this is Roger Hautle and I will be dealing with your enquiry. This page tells you how to engage me, and it also asks you questions about your issue in order to help you prepare for our first conversation.

During the day I am often deeply immersed in lines of VBA code or an array of Excel formulas, or talking to a customer, so a phone call can take me by surprise. Therefore, the best way to contact me for a new project is via email which gives me the time to prepare before we speak and be fully attentive when we do so.

Before scheduling a conversation I'd like to receive a brief description of the requirements with possibly some examples attached; examples can come in the form of spreadsheets, screen shots, scanned drawings, flow charts, etc. This information helps me to familiarise myself with the issue and prepare for the following discussion.

Once I've looked at the information, I will get back to you to arrange a time to talk. The conversation will clarify outstanding questions, enable me to find out whether I can help you, and allow you to decide if you want to work with me. If we decide to go ahead we will discuss further details. Once we are clear about the requirements I will give you a time & cost frame for completing the work; depending on the nature of the work and the clarity of the requirements, I may be able to give you an exact quote or just an estimate. In any case, the time I take to familiarise myself with your issue and the following conversation are free of charge. When you receive my quote or estimate you can still decide not to go ahead without any obligation.

I will only start work and incur costs once we have agreed what needs to be done and fixed a price or set a budget. After we have agreed the cost and a delivery schedule, I will start working on the project and provide you with regular status updates.
Most of the time I work in my office but I also work at customers' premises if required by the project or desired by the customer. When I need to share my screen or look at a customer's, I use remote desktop sharing tools. Most projects don't need face-to-face meetings but I'm happy to meet if a customer wishes to do so. I live near Oxford but I can travel to Birmingham, Bristol, London, Southampton or even further if required.

Below are a number of questions I need answered before being able to assess and estimate a project in detail. Not all of these questions may apply to your case, but they give you an idea of what I'm trying to understand and might help you come up with issues you haven't thought of. Ideally, you answer them in your description or through attachments, but it's perfectly fine to answer them during the initial conversation.

By answering the following questions you can help me understand what you are looking for:

  1. Describe briefly the purpose of the spreadsheet:
    • Is it an existing spreadsheet or will you want to have it built from scratch?
    • What is it supposed to do or to achieve, in what sort of environment will it be used in? Is it going to be used in conjunction with other spreadsheets, tools or systems?
    • Is it going to be a strategic spreadsheet or one of a lower importance?
    • What is its life expectancy?
  2. Who will be using the spreadsheet?
    • How many users will it have? If more than one, should multiple users be able to work on the spreadsheet simultaneously, possibly from different locations?
    • How familiar are the prospective users with spreadsheets? Can I expect people to know standard features or will I need to assume a wide range of skill-levels and develop/document accordingly?
    • How robustly will the spreadsheet need to be built, i.e. how gracefully will it have to deal with possible exceptions or user errors?
    • Will there be a possible need for user training and if so, who would carry this out?
  3. What data feeds come into the spreadsheet?
    If there are any data feeds, how is the spreadsheet going to be populated?
    Is it being populated...
    • through manual data entry?
    • by importing data from csv, text, xml or other files?
    • by importing data from databases or existing customer systems?
    • by a combination of these methods?
    If data is entered manually, will you need some form of validation to ensure that entered data is properly validated before it is accepted? If the data comes from files, databases or other systems, how well structured is that data? Is it documented in any way?
  4. Maintaining Standing Data Items:
    Will there be any standing data items such as list of names, categories, product codes, etc.?
    If so,...
    • will the standing data have to be maintained in the spreadsheet (adding, modifying and deleting items) or would this be done outside by a third-party system?
    • would every user be allowed to update standing data items or should this feature be restricted to administrators?
    • how often would such data get updated and who would be responsible for keeping it up to date?
  5. What data (if any) will be exported?
    Is there any data to be exported or extracted from the spreadsheet?
    If so,...
    • what format and structure should it be exported into?
    • would it be exported into files, databases or third-party systems?
    • will you need to apply filters so you can export just a subset of the data?
  6. Are there any custom calculations?
    Are there any industry-specific or complex calculations I might not be familiar with? If so, are these calculations already available and documented so I could readily incorporate them? If not, would there be a contact I could go to for assistance?
  7. Is there an established workflow?
    Is there an already established workflow or would this be part of my job to create one? If there is an established workflow, would you want to keep it or look into ways of possibly improving it?
  8. Navigating the spreadsheet:
    How would you want to navigate through the spreadsheet, using its standard tabs or through additional links between sheets, and/or through an index menu on a dedicated sheet?
    What would you expect to see when you open the spreadsheet, should it show the sheet that was active when it was last saved or should it always show the same sheet (a title sheet with logo & company information, for example)?
  9. Location & Security:
    Where will the delivered spreadsheet be located? On a local computer drive or on a shared network?
    • If stored on a local computer, will users need to be prevented from making copies of a master spreadsheet (to eliminate the risk of them using outdated versions when the master gets updated)?
    • If stored on a shared network, does it need extra security so that only authorised people can access the spreadsheet?
    Is an access restriction through a valid user-ID/password combination required, or is there a requirement for multiple access-levels for people of different seniority? Should the spreadsheet be copy-protected so it can't be used outside its intended environment?
  10. Distribution & Updates:
    • How will the spreadsheet get distributed for the first time?
    • How would future updates/fixes get distributed, and how often?
    • What should happen with existing data when a spreadsheet is updated?
  11. Maintenance & Archiving:
    Can you foresee things that need to be maintained like standing data or updating the spreadsheet itself? If so, in what frequency might this occur and how much time are they likely to consume?
    Do you need a way of archiving the spreadsheet? If so, the entire spreadsheet or just the data and possibly other settings in it?
  12. Confidentiality
    Would your project require you to share sensitive information? If so, Roger is happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement before receiving any data. You can download free agreement-templates from the Internet if your company doesn't have one. I can also provide a generic one on request (which I've downloaded from the Internet).

This list is not complete, but it should give you an idea of what information I'm after. No problem if you haven't got answers to all of above questions, I will help you finding them when we speak.

If you have a project to look into and like to engage an Excel consultant or VBA developer, please send me an email.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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This page might answer some questions you may have when thinking of engaging an Excel consultant or VBA developer.

Excel Works is located near Oxford, 60 miles north-west of London in the UK. Roger mostly works with customers over the phone and through remote desktop sessions, but he can travel to London, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Brighton or even further if required.