Nashua, N.H. — April 18
Upgrading to a new version of Microsoft Office can be daunting, as business leaders worry about business disruptions, compatibility issues and associated risks. Advanced planning will help companies avoid migration pitfalls, according to a new report by technology and market research company Forrester Research Inc., titled “Pitfalls to Avoid When Upgrading to Microsoft Office 2010.”
“Although Microsoft Office 2010 is the fastest-selling consumer version of Office in history, risk-adverse businesses have taken longer to commit,” said Shawn Allaway, president of ConverterTechnology, whose migration experts contributed to the Forrester report. “While migrations benefit companies in the long-term, desktop transformations can be a lengthy process, requiring environmental assessments, file migrations, application testing and user training.
“The major causes of business disruption result from file and application compatibility issues, but advanced planning can prevent these problems. By carefully evaluating the file landscape, gathering staff input, implementing staff training and anticipating the associated risks, companies can often avoid the pitfalls of a Microsoft upgrade,” he said.
Reasons to invest in a Microsoft upgrade include providing a more reliable, higher-performing computing environment, improving productivity, optimizing desktop infrastructure, increasing protection of the PC environment and improving user satisfaction, according to the report. It adds that Windows 7 has quickly become the standard for most new corporate PCs.
Because of these benefits, Office migrations are expected to increase by 7 percent in 2011, according to Forrester. Their research also indicates that 88 percent of businesses plan to migrate to Windows 7, and 46 percent are planning a migration within the next 12 months.
Experts from Forrester and ConverterTechnology offer the following tips for planning and executing a successful migration:
• Evaluate your office file landscape. Involve your employees early in the migration process to help identify the most mission-critical documents, databases and spreadsheets. Survey your workforce to accurately determine how they use Office, which will help guide critical decisions during the migration process.
• Prioritize migration efforts. Some users can be upgraded quickly, while others are at higher risk during a migration — such as those using complex, business-critical Excel files — with heavier file remediation and testing needs. Identify employees who collaborate and share documents so they can be migrated as a group.
• Anticipate a learning curve. Plan for extensive training as employees start using the new interface. Explain the basics, such as how to use the new Ribbon, as well as more advanced features for information sharing, filtering and more. Adequate training will help employees resume full productivity faster.
• Maximize ROI by embracing new features. Educate employees about Office enhancements and demonstrate the productivity benefits of these new features. Upgraded features allow users to quickly perform multicommand tasks, co-author documents, visually represent data in Excel cells, filter data and more.
• Determine file remediation needs. This will likely impact only a small portion of your files, but these are often your most business-critical documents. Failing to plan for file remediation can be disruptive.
• Implement testing to identify at-risk files. Migration teams must consider compatibility issues for files, templates, applications and add-ins. ConverterTechnology offers a full suite of tools to identify and remediate these files.
• Recognize that some files will need manual intervention or may even need to be re-created. Examples are password-protected files and Outlook attachments. Most companies use compatibility mode, which ensures that new content can be converted to a useable form.
• Understand that embedded macros pose a serious risk, especially in business-critical Excel documents. It’s important to identify and fix broken links in your files — otherwise, you’re at risk for major errors.