Archive | March 2014

8.4.2014: Power to the User

With the end of support for Office 2003 and Windows XP rapidly approaching, we take a final look at how this event will impact organisations and most importantly, their employees.

Something we can all relate to…

You make your way to work on a Monday morning, knowing that the office has undergone a make-over at the weekend. A brief e-mail circular had been sent to staff members on Friday morning, alerting them to changes in workplace arrangement and decor as well as some new equipment to update ageing appliances. Considering the short notice and casual nature of this notification, you and your co-workers expect minimal modifications and business-as-usual as you prepare to exit the elevator and take your seats.

Conversely, you enter to discover an almost unrecognisable environment. Cubicles have been re-located and people are unsure as to where they should be sitting. Stationary is no longer stored in the same area. Managers are now situated in different quarters. Appliances such as printers and photocopiers have been less updated as they have replaced with completely new brands and models. As the clock approaches 9am and the floor begins to fill, there is a sense of chaos, uncertainty and disillusionment as scores of employees struggle to cope in their new, unfamiliar setting.

Giving change the respect it deserves…

The above example is in its totality, unimaginable. Individuals, regardless of their discipline or rung on the corporate ladder, can comprehend the significance of a stable physical environment and the role it plays in facilitating human interaction and activity. This understanding, however, often fails to extend to less established and palpable circumstances.

Over the past months, I have used this forum to draw attention to such a situation where people, many in positions of influence, may be misjudging the impact of environmental change. In less than two weeks, Windows XP and Office 2003 will no longer be supported by Microsoft, thus forcing a large quantity of organisations to upgrade their software to the latest versions.

While most companies will appreciate the more tangible risks of not moving from these versions (high support costs, security risks, etc.), many of them will underestimate the ramifications of the migration on their employees.

Same screen, different world…

Unfortunately for the near-billion Office and XP workers globally, millions will find themselves in a bewildering predicament on the morning of April 8th; one akin to the scenario outlined at the outset of this article (and yes, they too may be afforded very short notice of upcoming changes).

With 60% of the world’s entire workforce using Office as the platform from which almost every aspect of their working lives are organised and executed, you can begin to fathom a grand picture of utter despair when personnel switch on their screens post-upgrade. Confronted with a new interface, multiple additional features and functions and an entirely altered display, staff may simply shut down. Think about this in the context of larger, multinational firms and the outcome is exacerbated: mass disruption, disgruntled people, inferior output and a costly help-desk tsunami.

How to win…

My previous posts on this topic have considered the various training options available to businesses and the key drivers, advantages and shortcomings of each approach (you can read more about what I covered about successful Ms Office migration here and how to cut Microsoft migration costs here). But ultimately, it is all about putting power in the hands of users.

For companies to claim victory in their software upgrades, it is imperative that they provide their employees with two essential components vital to any satisfied workforce: communication and empowerment.

Communication should be ongoing; upcoming changes must be announced to staff well in advance with reasons and dates for implementation divulged. Workers, of course, will also require clear communication from management as to what support services are available and how to access them.

Intertwined with quality communication is the empowerment of employees. For this to be realised, those responsible for development of staff skills cannot afford to be complacent and assume their people will be able to handle software changes with zero or minimal support.

Training programmes will be an absolute necessity for organisations looking to prosper from their Microsoft migrations. This training has to be appropriate to the subject matter and provide employees with the knowledge necessary to thrive in a way that compliments their day-to-day roles. Crucially, learning platforms should not be allowed to become as disruptive as having no training at all.

User is king…

By recognising that a successful migration hinges on positive workforce response to their new environment, companies are taking the first and most critical step in their upgrade journey. Those who do not make the user central to their IT renovations will require an awful amount of Solpadine to relieve the headache of April 8th.

Learn more on how to make your Microsoft migration a success see our exclusive webinar. We also have a fantastic Microsoft upgrade training solution, MigrateEasy™ with an unbeatable offer for small, medium and large businesses