Change management for Office 2007

The company I work for is upgrading to Office 2007 in September. (We’re currently using Office 2003.) XP will continue as our operating system.

I’ve been asked to handle change management for this rollout.
Office 2007 apps — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access — use different menus from the previous versions. Microsoft considers these improvements. Long-time Office users may find the reorganization annoying.

Admittedly it will be easier for first-timers to use these products, but we have few of those in my building. The challenge I’ve been given is to minimize the anticipated drop in productivity as employees hunt for menu options they used to know how to find.

You can learn on your own, but it’s frustrating. I upgraded a couple of months ago, and I couldn’t figure out how to print, for heavens sake, the first time I open up Word 2007.

The Ribbon is the new menu. Microsoft calls it a “fluent user interface.” Menu options are grouped in what their usability experts consider to be logical chunks. All icons are labeled.

It’s sort of like saying, “The typewriter keyboard doesn’t make sense so we’ll reorganize it for you. . . There, isn’t that better?”

Well, it’s not that bad, but you see my point. The old Office design may have sucked, but we all learned it and now we have to figure out the new one. All of this is occurring in a more competitive, highly stressful work environment with fewer employees the same amount of work, where every minute wasted can have consequences — not the least of which is our ability to get out of the (lowercase) office at a decent hour and enjoy life such as it is.

My strategy will be to use a communication plan, a variety of training options, and recruitment of early adopters who can be, if not champions, change agents.

One group I plan to enlist is the administrative assistants. They are heavy users of Word and PowerPoint, and to some degree, Excel. Employees turn to them for help when they can’t figure out how to use the new printer or submit an expense report. They can play a key role in smoothing the way. I’d like to convince some of them to convert now, become familiar with the new design, and provide feedback that we can build into an FAQ or daily tips. It’s hard to know what will trip people up since we all use these applications differently.

Luckily, a ton of good online training and documentation is already online at the Microsoft site and some others. This means we won’t have to reinvent the wheel. Microsoft also has trainers who will come to your office and conduct sessions (if you can guarantee 60 people will attend).

Has anyone else made the leap to Office 2007? Any advice or thoughts?


4 Responses to Change management for Office 2007

  1. HH says:

    Great post. I just posted a tip about Word 2007 to build from your post:

  2. hharkness says:

    Thanks, Heidi

    I plan to post more on this topic, so stay tuned.

  3. Tom Johnson says:

    We recently did the same thing at my company. Personally, I dislike Word 2007. I liked being able to create a custom menu quickly with custom buttons, arranged just how I like. We had someone at my work create the same kind of transition guides.

  4. With the new Office (the 2007) design, look & feel, Microsoft have made a giant leap. True that it takes time to get use to the new ribbon and to get around quickly.. But once you are familiar with it, you rock!

    We do a lot of researches on the web, and using Excel macros,
    we have improved our research speed in 30%. That huge!!

    Using OneNote have improved our research information control (nothing get lost now) and with the sharing files abilities, now everyone can contribute to the project.

    So to summary it all, we are more then happy with the tools that comes in the Office 2007.
    We looking forward to the new one… 😉

    With the SP2 support for open source files,
    our CRM improved since we don’t have to “fight”
    with our clients anymore 🙂

    The 2007 was a great investment with benefits to us.

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