Opportunity

Long-Term Strategy

Microsoft Office Development and Consultancy Business

Opportunity

If you use Microsoft Office then you should start using the Microsoft Office Development Platform. This platform allows you to increase your productivity and customise your Office applications.

The VBA programming language was introduced in 1997 as a way to automate repetitive tasks and customise the experience. The reason for its success is because it is installed as part of Microsoft Office and the users can easily access it. Despite the potential risks and the limited capability, business users continue to use it because it is very simple and extremely effective.

The C# programming language was introduced in 2001 to address the shortcomings of other languages, such as C++ and Java. Automating Microsoft Office using C# lets you customise the applications and leverage the full power of the .NET Framework library. This technology can only be implemented successfully using Visual Studio and requires a very steep learning curve.

The JavaScript programming language was introduced in 2012 to allow Microsoft 365 add-ins to be deployed across multiple platforms. This lets you customise the applications and allows web pages to be fully integrated into Office using Web technology. Learning JavaScript and HTML comes with its own list of challenges and requires another very steep learning curve.


Frustration

End User Computing (EUC) refers to software programs that have been created by non-programmers. These developed applications (or EUDAs) allow the front office to quickly increase productivity by automating important business processes. Better Solutions Limited offers End Users and IT Departments a dedicated, london based, Microsoft Office programming resource that can align with any EUDA strategy.

Using developers that have Limited Experience results in quick fixes and makes subsequent changes much harder. A better solution would be to use developers that are experts in one or two languages and then get them involved with the other areas of the development life cycle.

Using developers that Over Engineer solutions results in code with unnecessary complexity and makes debugging much harder. A better solution would be to only use the core language features and implement them using an agreed coding convention that makes the code easy to understand.

Using developers that have poor Interpersonal Skills results in bad communication and makes support much harder. A better solution would be for the developer to have regular interactions with the users and for them to have full ownership and accountability for the code.


History

My name is Russell Proctor and this is the story behind the website and its journey so far.

2000 - Purchased a book called "Excel 2000 Power Programming with VBA" written by John Walkenbach. There were only a handful of Excel websites at that time and very few offered professional consultancy services.

2003 - Registered the domain name 'bettersolutions.com' and uploaded all my notes. Purchased Visual Studio 2002 and started learning how to customise Office using the .NET Framework. Acquired a specialist Lloyd's of London insurance syndicate, as a customer. Provided them with letter and fax VBA Word templates and advanced VB.NET PowerPoint authoring tools. Also delivered Excel chart and table formatting solutions.

2005 - Expanded consultancy services to more businesses in and around London providing them with Excel productivity tools for data processing and data aggregation. Designing and delivering Word authoring templates for quick document creation and formatting. Launched eleven editions of a BetterSolutions.com newsletter.

2008 - Purchased Visual Studio 2008 and focused on learning more about the C# Office Developer Tools. Built custom solutions for Email Management, Code Management and Project Management. Uploaded Word, PowerPoint and Quant sections to the website.

2014 - Started learning Office Add-ins and JavaScript. Acquired a london based, investor advisory specialist, as a customer. Provided them with a dedicated programming resource helping them to deliver both Excel and Outlook add-ins and templates. Uploaded VBA and C# sections to the website. Created Twitter and Facebook accounts.

2018 - Uploaded JavaScript section to the website. Migrated the website to Bootstrap 4.0. Liaised with Microsoft regarding functionality for the new JavaScript Excel APIs. Started attending the Microsoft Office Add-in community calls. Installed Visual Studio Code and started learning NPM, Webpack, Fluent UI, React and TypeScript. Completed the Strategy page on the website.

2020 - Completed the Vision and Services pages on the website. Created Instagram account. Migrated all VB.NET code to C# in our code repository. Started exploring Office Scripts and Power Automate. Acquired a few more high-profile customers establishing long-term partnerships.

2021 - Started to build our first Microsoft 365 add-in for the Office Store. Installed Windows 11 and moved our Code Management application into beta. Enhancing our Excel online resource to include all the new Office 365 functionality. Started exploring .NET Core and the various Office Development options using Visual Studio Code.


Experience

Over Two Decades of building Front Office solutions for Investment Banks and Hedge Funds in London.

1998 - After graduating from the University of Warwick with a Mathematics degree I started my career as a Research Assistant at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. Working closely alongside 20 Equity Analysts my responsibilities included composing emails and distributing notes on the trading floor. Most of my day was spent using Excel, PowerPoint and Datastream Advance.

1999 - Moved to UBS to continue as a Research Assistant and took responsibility for all the Microsoft Office automation methods used by the Small Cap team. This included re-writing Excel and Word templates to improve accuracy and speed. My most significant contribution was re-writing the SmallCap Quarterly 'two-page' template (400+ pages).

2000 - Transferred to Deutsche Bank to become an Equity Research developer to provide a dedicated VBA programming resource for the whole London Equity Research department. Here I wrote numerous Excel add-ins including ones to create, generate and upload various types of files, analyse folders and execute SQL statements. I also created the European Sales and Trading morning note which consolidated the morning news across fourteen countries.

2003 - Moved to Credit Suisse to become a Support Analyst within the Equity Derivatives front office. Working directly with the traders both in London and New York helping them to migrate off their Excel P&L spreadsheets. Responsible for all first line support across the OTC Options and Convertible desks with a focus on reducing the support burden for the implementation teams.

2004 - After working for 6 years I decided to take a career break to focus on three things: Learning Visual Studio, Migrating VBA code to VB.NET and enhancing the website. During this time I also took on a number of bespoke consultancy projects, the largest one being for a leading insurance and reinsurance company based in London.

2007 - Returned to the front office as an Excel RAD developer for BlueBay Asset Management, a London based hedge fund specialising in Fixed Income and Credit Derivatives. Providing a dedicated Excel and VBA programming resource for the Traders and Portfolio Managers. My biggest project was designing and automating the Investment Grade Client Marketing Factsheet as a document-level VSTO C# solution.

2010 - Moved to Barclays Capital as a Fixed Income developer to migrate solutions from VBA to VSTO technology. My most significant contribution was completely re-writing and migrating the Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities research authoring tool from VBA to .NET. Providing a dedicated Excel programming resource to both the Equity and Fixed Income research departments. Working on a team responsible for all the Microsoft Office Add-ins and Solutions globally within the research division of Client Facing Technology.