Three Tips for Making the Most of Microsoft Office

It's becoming a Web 2.0 world, but Microsoft Office still owns the enterprise and Microsoft has the power not to compromise on licenses. Here are three tips from research firm Forrester on how to get what you want from Office while keeping costs in check.

Tue, November 17, 2009


The billboard ads may be telling you it's time to "Go Google" with your productivity apps, but most enterprises still use Microsoft Office, and are planning to keep it that way.

A recent survey of 2,000 IT decision-makers by research firm Forrester shows that 80 percent of companies surveyed support some version of Microsoft Office, and 78 percent have no plans for implementing an alternative to Microsoft Office.

Yet this stronghold puts Microsoft in the driver's seat when it comes to negotiating Office licenses. As one product manager said in a new Forrester report that outlines best practices for enterprises working on a Microsft Office strategy, "They [Microsoft] come across knowing they're in the catbird seat, so there are not a lot of concessions."

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see's Windows 7 Bible. ]

In the Forrester report, author and analyst Sheri McLeish has some bits of advice for enterprises that want to improve worker efficiency using Office tools and become more confident at the negotiating table.

To understand how enterprises invest in Microsoft Office and utilize e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and presentations, Forrester interviewed more than 20 IT professionals responsible for Microsoft Office strategy and contract negotiations in various industries.

Forrester then came up the following three best practices for getting the most out of Office investments:

Categorize Workers by What They Need

Though most enterprises equip their workers with Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, actual use of these tools varies, says Forrester. Some workers review content but don't create it and therefore dont need a full-featured word processor; some rarely use Excel or PowerPoint; some use e-mail and calendaring hourly, while others just a few times a day.

Report author McLeish recommends segmenting your workforce based on thier Office needs and usage to "build a case for everything from moving to cloud-based e-mail to re-evaluating enterprise licensing."

To fully comprehend Office wants and needs, enterprises should: Survey their workforce to find out what workers do with Office, where they use the tools (laptops? mobile devices?), and what other employees they work with; analyze survey results to gauge workers' attitudes and how they use Office tools and collaborate with each other; and tie survey data back to the business by figuring out such things as what percentage of your workforce does not need full Office functionality.

Use Worker Data to Negotiate with Microsoft

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