Thursday, 9 January 2014

Word Up

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here

Most organisations I work with have MS Office and have moved generally to version 2010. Recently, I have come across some still on 2003 ("well it does the job....") or with pockets of 2003 that are still to be aligned with head office ("it's like 'Fraggle Rock' down there, we should round to it eventually.."). In a few cases, the housing management system has only recently been upgraded to support Office versions higher than 2003.

For those who have already done it, you have probably forgotten the pain your users endured.For the rest, if its a task for more than 20 users, I would say its actually a mini project in itself. this upgrade as the potential to cause some hassle.

Now, I had heard people say that everyone has Office 2007 or 2010 at home and will take to it like a duck to water. Fair enough, some might, but they are unlikely to use Excel and Word like they do at work. They certainly wont link it to other applications. Also in recent years, unless you have a teenager doing school or college projects at home, you may have actually ditched the PC or laptop for a more convenient tablet.

So what should a project cover to make this transition much smoother?

Well, the loss of 'Clippy' (the friendly paper clip helper) is not the only cosmetic GUI change, from 2007 Microsoft found it necessary to randomly hide all functions behind half a dozen parts of the new 'Ribbon Bar'. I would estimate that without adequate training, this could add an overhead of users spending 4 or 5 times longer fustratedly looking to find the usual functions in Excel and Word. So training and access to good help is essential. This link is a good starting point, although if it were me I would structure up some video training and have users 'sign-off' that they have undertaken and understood it, well before the upgrade goes live.

To give users a leg up with 2010, you can always provide them with an add-in, such as this one from UBit, that cleverly adds a new ribbon item called 'Menu'.

Upgrade to 2010 will mean that many .DOC, .MDB and .XLS files will need to be converted to the new .DOCX , .ACCDB, .XLSX , XLSM , XLTX, DOCM, DOTM etc. This will be the time that anyone who is currently using macros or links in Office documents will need to do some serious testing. Most organisations have a lot of these bubbling under the surface.

Where there are templates and merges utilised with your Housing Management or Finance System, these should all be checked carefully and ticked off, as still merging or being formatted correctly. If you use an integrated EDM application, ensure that is configured correctly, including any widgets you are using to automatically PDF your documents on the trigger of printing.

Being systematic will help everyone make the leap more smoothly and if you are in the IT team, I bet users will like you more...

If you have been through a 2003 to 2010 migration, let me know what unexpected issues you encountered or any tips you could pass on.

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - It would be great to connect !

OK, Red cod-pieces locked and loaded - Cameo - Word Up .

(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

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