Office 2007? Office 2010? Help!

January 22, 2010

Microsoft will release Office 2010 this year. And yet so many Office users have not yet switched to Office 2007 from older versions. Why are people using office productivity software that is several years older than their computers, cars and cell-phones? I mean, would you be caught with a cell-phone circa 2003? Yet if you’re using versions of Word, Excel, etc. prior to Office 2007, then 2003 is the best case scenario.

While cost is surely behind some of the reluctance, I believe the main reason many have not switched to 2007 is the radically re-designed user interface. The “ribbon” used in most Office 2007 applications is so different from the previous menu bar and icon-based toolbar interface, that most of us on first seeing the Word 2007 screen went something like, “OK, where’s the hidden camera and how come I don’t get the joke?”

Now after using the new interface for a week or two and enduring a brief but painful and frustrating learning curve, almost anything you want to do actually becomes easier to find than in the older versions. But who wants to go through that much pain? Yet like it or not, as new computers arrive pre-loaded with Office 2007 (and soon 2010) most users will either have to adapt or switch to some other productivity suite – and learn another unfamiliar interface.

The good news is that help is available, of a nature that makes the learning process quite painless; but for some reason it’s apparently a well-kept secret. See the links at the end of this post, which lead to resources on the Microsoft website that aid in the transition from Office 2000/XP/2003 to Office 2007 in a simple but powerful way: choose a command from your familiar Office 2003 interface, and the tool shows you how to do the same thing in 2007.

For example, to emulate inserting a comment in Word 2003 I selected Insert, then Comment on the tool:


And the tool shows me how to insert a comment using the Word 2007 ribbon:

(Click on the above images to see a larger version.)

So if you’re moving to Office 2007 (or thinking of it), I suggest you bookmark these links:

Word 2003 to Word 2007

Excel 2003 to Excel 2007

In a few weeks I’ll post some comprehensive information about Office 2010.

More on Technology ROI

January 12, 2010

Some feedback from my post on Handheld Technology ROI started me thinking (always a dangerous situation)…

Should all business technology investments be made solely (or chiefly) on the basis of an acceptable positive return on investment? I think most businesspeople will agree that it’s much easier to make (or justify) a decision when the numbers look positive. And yet we routinely see decisions made without due regard to the measurable benefits compared to cost. Why?

On the one hand, some spending decisions made without ROI analysis  may make perfect sense. Many of us have bought things (for business use) because they’re “cool”, not because they necessarily pass the ROI test. I don’t think that’s automatically a bad thing; if it makes you and Sheryl Crow happy…

On the other hand, the type of decision that I find truly puzzling is the one based solely on price, totally ignoring the (quantifiable) benefits of the different options under consideration. Consider being faced with these two proposals:

  1. Initial investment of $20,000, which will result in annual cost savings of $5,000.
  2. Initial investment of $40,000, yielding annual cost reductions of $25,000.

Which one would you opt for? Yeah, me too.

But not everyone makes the right choice here. In fairness, sometimes the return / payback is a little tricky to measure, such as saving an employee 5 – 8 hours per week – how do you quantify the savings when you’ll still be paying them the same salary? (More on this in a future blog post.)  But we’ve also seen the “cheaper” decision made when the payback is easily and readily quantified, such as reduced shipping rates or reduction of head-count.

One of the factors here is trust. If you trust the salesperson or company behind option #2, there’s probably no way you’ll choose option #1.  But in the absence of trust, that $25,000 annual reduction starts to feel risky, and one apparent way of mitigating risk is to spend less up front. I think there’s a lesson here for salespeople and technology companies, and it’s that no matter how good you believe your product is, and no matter how compelling your ROI analysis may be, it still all comes down to relationships and trust. Many companies try to overpower their prospects with data, at the expense of taking an actual interest in the people that they’re selling to. And that’s a big mistake.

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