Upgrading to Office 2007
The first thing to bear in mind is that Office 2007 is quite different from all previous versions of Microsoft Office. Love it or loathe it the new style interface is here to stay. For this reason we recommend thinking of the move in terms of a migration project rather than a more simple upgrade one.
Why move to Office 2007?
Every organisation will have to weigh up its own priorities to assess if it can justify the migration to Office 2007. So just before we consider the effort involved in the move, what are the main benefits?
- Office 2000 is no longer supported by Microsoft, XP goes the same way in 2011, 2003 the year after. If your organisation values security patches, hot fixes and someone to call if and when there is a problem then it may make sense to stay on a supported version.
- Powerful integration with server based components like Sharepoint.
- Several new features in each of the main applications
Based on the above, and our experience on commercial implementations the Codematic advice is:
- If you use Sharepoint, or are planning to, or recognise collaboration as important and have the resources, then migrating to 2007 may make sense.
- If you are satisfied with your current collaboration approaches then the move to 2007 may not make sense. If you require support, upgrading to Excel 2003 (Excel classic as it is now known in the Excel community) may make more sense. Moving to 2003 is a much smaller effort than going to 2007. This option gives you three years to decide on, and implement, your desktop productivity strategy.
- If you don't have a critical dependency on VBA or Microsoft support then you might consider a move to OpenOffice.org. OOo also gives you the option to try other operating systems apart from the Windows family. As the full source code is available, any developer or software company can provide support. And VBA support is quickly being developed and added. This migration disruption is probably similar to a 2007 move, with the ongoing benefit of no more licence costs.
What does moving to Office 2007 involve?
To migrate several thousand seats with minimum disruption will probably require 5 - 10 staff-years of effort. This sounds like a lot, but most organisations have many many years worth of developments tied into their office suite. All of that needs to be tested prior to migration. Most organisations will have thousands of important spreadsheets (and hundreds of those will be critical) that will need to work correctly immediately on migration.
On moving to 2007 there is a dramatic dip in productivity whilst users become familiar with the new location of commands and other user interface changes. Microsoft estimate this dip to last two weeks, our experience and the Excel community on-line put it much higher, and possibly never recovering Excel 2003 levels of efficient working. At the bare minimum, do your key workers have two weeks where they can afford to work at half speed? Office 2010 has a similar interface to 2007 so every organisation that continues with Microsoft Office will have to take this hit at some point.
Our Classic Tab tool which adds an Excel 2003 menu layout option to the 2007 UI can reduce frustration.
Office 2007 Migration Program
See here for our recommended month by month breakdown of migration activity.