C H A P T E R    16 Part 4  Switching from Other Applications Microsoft Office Resource Kit
Switching to Microsoft Office Previous



In This Chapter
Switching Your Organization to Office

See Also

This chapter tells you what to expect when you or your workgroup switches from competitive applications to Microsoft Office 97 for Windows or Office 98 for the Macintosh.

The remaining chapters in Part 4, "Switching from Other Applications," provide detailed information about switching to the individual Office applications.



This chapter describes how to migrate from other applications, such as WordPerfect and Lotus 1­2­3, to Microsoft Office. As an administrator, you probably want to take full advantage of your investment in Office with minimal disruption to your organization. This chapter helps to prepare your organization for Office, and helps you install the new software with as little disruption as possible.

Note   Some of the information in this chapter is similar to that in Chapter 3, "Deployment Guide for Microsoft Office." Chapter 3 is a comprehensive description of migration issues for a large organization. This chapter is written for a smaller organization with a less formal deployment process. Look at both chapters, and then decide which information best suits your organization.

The process of moving your organization from other applications to Office begins with the planning phase and ends with a successful implementation of Office. Each step in this process is described in the following table.

Task Description
Plan your migration to Office Before installing Office, assess your existing hardware and software configurations, as well as the needs and skills of your users; then develop a step­by­step plan for the move.
Test the new applications Have a representative group of users try out the new Office applications and provide feedback.
Train new users Educate users about Office before they need to begin using the new applications.
Convert existing files to Office formats Determine which files you need to convert; then back up your originals and convert files to Office application formats.
Distribute Office throughout your organization Determine the best way to obtain Office for all your users, and then install Office.
Take advantage of new Office features Look for additional ways to use Office to improve efficiency, productivity, and your competitive edge; solicit new ideas from users.

Switching Your Organization to Office

This section focuses on the specifics of each step in your migration to Office 97 (Windows) and Office 98 (Macintosh), and identifies issues to consider as you go along.

Plan Your Migration to Office

You probably know from experience that transitions are easier when you have a plan. That is why it is important to assess your situation and determine a plan of action before you make your move.

Assessing Your Current Configuration

The first step in building a solid migration plan is to assess your current environment so you can better plan the actual implementation.


Is your current operating system suitable for the new Office applications?

Inventory your existing equipment so you can develop a purchasing plan if necessary. The inventory should address the following questions:

  • What kinds of computers are currently installed?
  • How much memory is available on each computer?
  • How much disk space is available on each computer?
  • Is there a network in place?

For More Information   about hardware requirements, see Chapter 5, "System Requirements for Microsoft Office."

Existing Applications and Systems

What important files and programs currently exist in your organization and how will the move to Office affect them?

Many of your existing computer files and programs are important to the day­to­day operations of your organization. A payroll spreadsheet, an online order form, the sales proposal creation process, or time and billing tracking are examples of critical business applications. It is important to identify the impact that the new software will have on these tasks so that the transition to Office is a smooth one.

To identify the files, systems, and tasks important to your organization, think about the various activities and functions that keep your organization running. Make sure that you consider all areas of the company. The following table lists some typical examples.

Even if you determine that these files and systems are not affected, the examination process may provide an excellent opportunity to rethink your existing processes in order to take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of Office.

Users' Needs and Abilities

What are the computer abilities and expectations of the people affected by the move to Office? How do people work together and share information on a day­to­day basis?

In planning your move to Office, you should:

  • Count the number of people moving to Office.
  • Map out groups of people who work together and share files.
  • Identify people with good computer skills who can be enlisted to help.
  • Identify people who may need special assistance.

It is very important to understand the computing abilities and needs of the people in your organization. First, it helps you determine how big an effort the move represents. Second, you can take advantage of existing knowledge in your organization by identifying people who already know about Office applications from previous experience — and use these people to train and assist others in your organization. Third, you can begin to develop a plan to help beginners who may lack computer experience or who are afraid of change.

It is also useful to identify how people in your organization work together and share files and information. Think about how to keep them working together during the move to Office, although switching to Office ultimately reduces incompatibility problems and allows users to help each other through the transition. Moving small, manageable groups, instead of all employees at once, also helps you use your resources more effectively.

Work Environment

What special circumstances exist within your organization that could affect your move to Office?

Every organization has a unique set of constraints. It is important to identify these in the beginning stages of the move, so that you can plan around them as necessary. Some examples of these constraints include:

  • Budget

    If your budget is limited, you may want to look for lower­priced training options, such as purchasing the Step by Step series of training materials from Microsoft Press. For more information, see Appendix E, "Other Support Resources."

  • Peak busy periods

    Holiday sales, tax­filing deadlines, or audits can keep your organization busy enough.

  • Other project deadlines

    Do not expect people to cooperate with a move to new software if they are already working unusually long hours on another special project.

  • Available resources

    If you have very few people within your organization who can help you with the moving process, you can go to an outside source. For example, find external consultants and trainers to help you, or try spending a little extra on training so that people can better help themselves.

Department Typical critical applications
Accounting A/P; A/R; payroll; tax preparation, reporting, and compliance
Sales Order entry, order confirmation, customer service, proposal creation, inventory
Legal Contract preparation
Human Resources Resume tracking
   World Wide Web   The Microsoft Certified Solution Provider program can help you locate qualified Microsoft product experts in your area. For more information, connect to the Solution Provider home page at:


For best results, be sensitive to these constraints and work around them. Schedule the switch to Office after major holidays, a new business pitch, or the annual trade show. Avoid overburdening people whose schedules are already overflowing with other important commitments.

Developing a Plan for Your Move

Once you thoroughly understand your current situation, you can plan for the move. Whether you have 3 people or 300, a plan helps ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. A plan helps you accomplish what needs to be done, identify how it is going to get done, determine how long it will take, and make sure that you do not overlook any details.

Your plan should:

  • Identify specific tasks to be completed.
  • Assign responsibility and an expected start date and end date for each task.
  • Set realistic dates and assign a manageable number of tasks to each person.
  • Adjust over time as needed.

Test the New Applications

For a better idea of what to expect, test the Office applications before you install them. In small companies, a test can be as informal as having someone work with the new software first. In larger companies, you may want to choose a group of users and perform a more structured test. A useful test includes converting important files and applications, training users, and, most importantly, evaluating the process so you can adjust your plan for the final installation of Office.

Conducting a test is a great way to put your implementation plan into practice. It is important to choose a test situation that allows you to build on success and gives you a tangible demonstration of the benefits of Office. Some groups or individuals are better initial testers than others. Use these tips when selecting the test group:

  • Select willing participants.
  • Keep the scope of the test small and manageable; three people is a good number for a test group. If your organization is very small, one or two users is sufficient.
  • Do not attempt the hardest scenario first. Pick a situation of average complexity for solid proof that the plan works for your organization.

Once you have completed your test, be sure to solicit feedback from the test group to determine what went well and what could be improved. This information helps you modify your plan to be better prepared when you proceed with the companywide Office installation.

Train New Users

The next step is to train people to use the Office applications. Fortunately, users of the most common competitive word processing and spreadsheet software can use much of their existing knowledge in Office.

Although the choices and options that each Office application provides may seem overwhelming at first, most things you learn for one Office application are applicable to any other Office application. Shortcut keys, navigational key sequences, buttons you click and other mouse actions, as well as application menus and toolbars are all consistent between the Office applications. Therefore, the time you spend learning one Office application can be leveraged while learning the next one.

Training Classes

Formal training classes can be a very effective way to get people up and running quickly on the new software. You can send your employees to classes held at a professional training center or find someone to come to your office or even right to your desk.

For More Information   about setting up a formal training program for Office, see Chapter 8, "Training and Support Programs for Microsoft Office."

If you are constrained by a budget and cannot afford classroom training for everyone, you have other options. You can:

  • Educate users about the general differences between their old applications and the new Office applications.
  • Give your most communicative people formal training and have them teach everyone else.
  • Strongly encourage people to use the online Help included in each Office application.
  • Purchase videos or other ready­made training programs and make them available for people to use.

Successful Training

Whether you hire a professional to train your employees, train them with your own resources, or let them learn on their own, you should consider the following:

  • Provide training that meets the specific needs of your people.

    Most professional trainers are willing to customize a course for your needs. For example, if your customer service or marketing people send out a lot of mailings using mail merge (form letters), ask the trainer to include a mail merge topic in the Microsoft Word class.

  • Provide uninterrupted training and learning time.

    This is especially important if you are asking people to learn on their own. It is difficult to absorb new material when constantly interrupted with day­to­day responsibilities. If your organization cannot afford to lose people to training during working hours, schedule training before work, after work, or even on weekends. You can also make equipment available off­hours for people to learn on their own.

  • Encourage people to use the new Office software.

    The best way to learn how to use a new application is to have real work to do. For example, using Word to type an actual letter to an important client can be a great learning experience.

  • Encourage on­going training and learning.

    Offer a monthly refresher course or casual meeting where users can share quick tips and experiences.

When looking for training help, you should consider using one of Microsoft's many nationwide training centers. These Authorized Technical Education Centers (ATECs) are certified by Microsoft to train users on Office applications and Windows. For more information, see Appendix E, "Other Support Resources."

Convert Existing Files to Office Formats

The last step before you move your organization to Office is to prepare your files for the move. Convert the files that you use on a regular basis to the new software format. Use the following sequence as a guide:

  1. Determine which files you will need immediately after the move to Office.
  2. Back up these files. This prevents permanent losses if you accidentally save over or change files during the conversion process.
  3. Convert the files to Office application formats. Office applications include built­in file converters for most popular software.
  4. Check the converted files to make sure they contain the information you expected.

During the conversion process, pay special attention to important business applications. Make sure that critical business files, such as a payroll spreadsheet or sales proposal template, are available and working in the new environment. Test the old applications you plan to keep using, and convert or develop alternatives for the rest.

Test the conversion of files that get updated daily. These are files that cannot be out of service for any length of time (a daily telephone log, a daily sales order worksheet, and so forth). Because these files may be updated while you are in the process of converting them, test the conversion process ahead of time and identify any problems that occur. Then convert the most recent version of the file when you are ready.

If you have large libraries of files to convert to Microsoft Excel or Word format, you can use the batch conversion tools included in both programs. If you are converting files for Excel format, use the File Conversion Wizard. If you are converting documents to Word format, use the Conversion Wizard.

For More Information   about converting to Excel format, see Chapter 18, "Switching to Microsoft Excel." For more information about converting to Word format, see Chapter 21, "Switching to Microsoft Word."

Most remaining files can and should be converted by the file owners themselves. Usually this requires little more than opening them in the new Office application and then saving them in the new format.

Finally, record the conversion process. Think about how to best use what you have learned and pass it on to others. You may want to write up some tip sheets or hold an informal breakfast or lunch meeting after people are up and running to discuss your findings.

Distribute Office Throughout Your Organization

At this point in the move, you should have a good understanding of your organization's environment and have made plans for dealing with important files and applications. Some files are already converted as a result of the test. Your people are trained and ready. It is now time to get the entire business running on the new Office software.

Evaluating Your Purchasing Options

If you have not already purchased the software for your organization, you should examine the options available to you through Microsoft's various licensing programs.

Scheduling Installations

It is useful to centralize the installation process by assigning someone to be responsible for performing all of the individual installations in your organization. This technique ensures that everyone receives the new software as planned. Some tips for this approach are:

  • Schedule a specific day and time for each installation

    This eliminates surprises and ensures access to the desk and computer at a specified time.

  • Avoid surprising people

    People returning from vacation or illness may not react favorably to an unexpected installation of new software.

  • Be flexible within reason

    Reschedule as necessary to accommodate busy users, but do not let anyone put off upgrading for too long.

Installing the Applications

During Office Setup, you can choose a Typical (Windows) or Easy (Macintosh) installation of the most commonly used Office features and components, or a Custom installation that lets you select exactly which features and components you need. You should perform a test installation so you can evaluate these options rather than experimenting at someone's desk. You may also want to record the installation options you select so you can refer to them during subsequent installations.

Using a Local Area Network

If your organization has a local area network (LAN), you have some additional installation options.

Running Applications over the Network

If there is a LAN already in place in your organization, you may want to consider running the Office applications from the network instead of running them on individual computers. The following table lists the advantages and disadvantages of running applications from of a network.

You can also choose a mixed environment: Furnish individual copies of Office applications to those who use them most, and provide access over the network to more casual users.

Using the Network to Install Software

Even if you decide to run your applications locally, you can use the network to install the software on individual computers. There are several significant benefits of using the network to install software:

  • A network installation may be faster, since several users can install applications at the same time.
  • A network installation is easier to maintain. If there are any upgrades to the software, you can place a copy of the new software in the shared folder, and all users can be certain they are installing the most current version.

For More Information   about network installation options, see Chapter 4, "Installing Microsoft Office."

Getting Back to Business as Usual

Once software is installed, files are converted, and people are trained, the next major goal is to get past the transition phase and return to business as usual. Some tips for quickly restoring order include:

  • Encouraging people to use their Office applications to do their daily work.

    Practice makes perfect, and it is always easier to learn by doing.

  • Encouraging people to help and support each other.

    Working together and sharing experiences are great way for employees to raise their comfort level.

  • Providing access to experts.

    If you have in­house experts, or people you think can become experts, designate them as a resource available to others. Sometimes people appreciate the recognition and overlook the fact that they now have more work to do! Other options are to hire an expert (sometimes a college intern works out well) or to subscribe to one of Microsoft's telephone support services.

  • Establish and communicate an end date.

    Set a finite amount of time for users to get through the transition period. Limit training to a reasonable period of time.

For More Information   about Microsoft support services, see Appendix E, "Other Support Resources."

Take Advantage of the New Office Features

After completing the previous five steps, your organization should be well on its way to greater productivity and efficiency. To fully realize your investment, however, you should tap into the new power available with Office. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Make sure you are using the right tool for each task.

    For example, many people know only word processing. Heavy statistical typing may be better accomplished in Excel.

  • Encourage employees to generate new ideas about how to use the new applications to work even more effectively.

    If you have an e­mail system or public folders, communicate best practices as they emerge within your organization.

  • Develop some custom applications.

    Turn some paper­based forms into Word templates or Microsoft Outlook forms. Develop some Excel macros to automate tasks.

For More Information   about new features in Office, see Chapter 2, "What's New in Microsoft Office."

If you do not know enough yet to be able to dream up new ways that Office can help your organization, consultants can be very useful in giving you some new ideas. Low­cost sources of new ideas include local user group meetings, as well as Microsoft electronic forums on CompuServe; MSN, The Microsoft Network; or the World Wide Web.

Advantages Disadvantages
Uses less hard disk space.
Although some network applications require certain files to be located on individual computers, much less disk space is required on the hard disk.

Saves time.
Less time is needed to install or update the software in the future.

May be less reliable.
If the network is offline, applications are unavailable.

Can slow performance.
Running off a network is slower than running locally. If the network is slow, applications are even slower.

   World Wide Web   For more information about using Office more effectively, connect to the Office home page at:


You may also want to investigate other applications that could provide complementary capabilities. For example, Microsoft Office Compatible products have been developed by Microsoft and other software companies to work with (and work like) the programs in Office.

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