There may be a concern regarding any new undertaking, especially one that is not in your primary area of expertise. Let me assure you that I understand this, having been a business owner myself, and that there are ways to structure efforts according to your appetite. Here are the steps we would tackle for any full undertaking. The order is static but the effort (percentage) attributed to each is always under our control:
Orientation 15%. Aside from first meeting(s), I need to get acclimated to the terminology, forms, data, processes and operating culture currently at work in the firm. I would need to be able to interact with staff as I accumulate questions and answers.
Analysis 15%. In this stage I must identify and collect real data and notes with respect to alternatives as well as questions for you which I will need answers. This stage is crucial for the reorganization of data which is key to seeing you through to new growth or expansions.
Design 10%. In large developments, this entails a highly detailed document complete with mock-ups, charts, test-data and more. It is intended to be passed along to a team of developers. This is not the case here. For our purpose it will speak to the development philosophy. The how and why we do things as we do. We might also leave the door open for additions in the future.
Development 30%. Swift and manageable when it comes to the project I am proposing, since most of it has been envisioned by this stage.
Alpha Test 5%. This is where we involve open minded staff members to walk through real-life scenarios in order to validate and recommend features. They would exercise data-entry, forms, reports etc. We also look for time dependencies and issues surrounding the currency of data in the operations.
Rework 10%. Here we address recent issues and recommendations.
Implementation 15%. With the data structures complete, lookup tables intact and reports verified, this is where we need to replace the test data with the existing `spreadsheet` data at a scheduled point in time.
IMPORTANT: This is not to say that we need to address all of this if we do anything. The first two, or three, stages (30-40%) will provide a clear image of your going forward position. No `development` or use of The Cloud or a particular RDB has been started. The expense to this point is transferable and valuable.