Microsoft Office is by far the single most popular office suite of desktop applications used by organizations today. Its components (Outlook, Excel and Word) have become essential for business productivity. Microsoft says that Office 2010 is the fastest-selling version of Office ever and that companies are deploying it five times faster than Office 2007.
The above reasons, together with Office 2010’s new features and enhancements should result in IT managers planning to roll-out the new version if they have not done so already. As with any migration, this one has its challenges. Below you can find more about them and how to overcome some of them:
- The new user interface. One of the most important challenges is to get users to work with the new Office version, especially if the migration is done directly from Office 2003 to Office 2010. It can prove to be difficult because of major interface changes, like the ribbon, merged menus and toolbars. However, increasing user communication during the planning stage and providing them training throughout the migration project will help decrease support calls to IT.
- The new Open XML file format. Often overlooked, the organization’s files should be the first priority for IT administrators when planning the migration because they represent the business intellectual property and their lack of integrity or functionality risks business continuity or user productivity. Starting with the 2007 version, Microsoft has introduced the new Open XML format for their office applications so there is a big chance for old macros, formulas, add-ins to not work as expected. This is why they have to be tested very well before deploying the new version to everyone and potentially fix, change or upgrade them if they are not compatible Office 2010.
- The actual deployment method. Certainly one important step in planning the roll-out is choosing the way IT departments will deploy Office 2010. The most straightforward way is to merge the migration to a new operating system together with the migration to the new Office version. This way, Office 2010 can be embedded into the build image and users will get it at the same time with the new operating system. If the Office migration has to be done separately, then products like System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) can be used to deploy it. There is also the possibility of a manual migration, but that is not feasible in large organizations.
These are some of Office 2010's migration challenges, but they do vary depending on the size of the company or, better said, the usage of the Office products within the organization. One important aspect not to be overlooked is the system requirements for Office 2010. Old machines will have to be upgraded or replaced if they don’t meet these requirements. As any migration this will require forethought, preparation and the right tools and resources to minimize disruption and maximize value to the business.