Welcome to the forum.
This sort of situation is always and interesting one from the point of our "value perception" logic which, in my opinion, is often flawed.
Back in the good old days of mini-computers the size of a small room I once delivered a $60,000 system which consisted of a largely empty case (for cooling purposes and the potential for expansion) to a client upgrading from a struggling 4 PC network (which didn't network very well back then) to an 8 user integrated system with plans to expand it.
The CEO came to have a look at the box to make sure it looked big enough to be about $60,000 worth of invoice.
If the $500 investment requires, say, 1 hour to evolve the process for the data conversion and just a few minutes to make changes if they are required as time passes it should be seen as a good investment. You don't get much bespoke code for $500. And maintenance of it would not come cheap either. In fact if the client lost access to the original programmer my bet is that any chamnges would require a new program based on the "Who on earth wrote this rubbish, there is no way I would code something like this!" syndrome so often found in the software industry. Either that or the need to move up to new technology, not always a totally smooth process.
If the Monarch solution is easier to create and maintain, invisible or not, it should have high perceived value for that very reason alone. That it offers a potentially programmer free interface at the same time is, some might say, a bonus.
I will now seek out my tin hat and await the comments of the programmers amongst the Monarch Forum user community! I'm sure they will be able to make some suggestions about ways to optimise the return on the investment.