Upgrading to Word 2010 – in a perfect world

I have been asked a few times what the priorities should be when upgrading from 2003 to 2007 and now from 2003 to 2010 in a large scale business environment.

First and foremost, the upgrade from 2003 to either 2007 or 2010 should be regarded as a new product rollout, not an upgrade. 2007 and 2010 are so different from earlier versions, so much more powerful, and with so many new features, that simply working in the product the same way as 2003 is not going to harness the value of upgrading.  Users are not only confronting a new interface; they are confronting a new way of working.

In a perfect world, the technical rollout personnel should form a team with an expert in using each major products, for example a technical writer who uses Word, and accountant who uses Excel etc. On top of this, there should be a trainer.
  • The rollout personnel should study all the Microsoft resources on what can and does go wrong. There are Microsoft resources to help with this. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc303401.aspx . Often rollout personnel make decisions regarding how the products are restricted without reference to the experts and how users work. In one rollout they simply locked down all new functionality, meaning staff had to learn the new interface for no net gain – not good politics.
  • The experts should set about learning their nominated product intimately and customising templates to suit the new version. Although legacy documents will work just fine in 2010, old, over-engineered and dirty templates are likely to cause trouble. Often the expert staff are given the job of managing the templates and training users when they do not understand enough of the new product themselves.  They must have learned all the new features so that they can work out which of them will give productivity gains in their specific environment.
  • Central to all this should be a trainer who takes responsibility for making sure the users love the upgrade. They should start developing a training plan for the staff. This is a significant change. Staff must be trained if the organisation wants to achieve productivity gains that are possible with this upgrade.
Now to Word 2010 itself.

Templates should, where possible, be re-designed and developed on a new, clean, Normal template.  As it is unlikely that in-house staff not currently using 2010 are expert enough to do this effectively, my recommendation would be for an expert in earlier versions to be assigned the role of designing the new templates while working through a resource that will teach them all there is to learn about 2010. They will be amazed at all the new options that they will choose to use if they know they are there.  These are my resources for:

While they are learning the product they can develop their new, clean, beautifully designed templates.  I would recommend that they do each of the following, preferably in the order shown.

One major issue is the loss of the toolbars, and significant re-design needs to be completed to make up for their loss. They can be retained but will sit one layer lower, on the Add-ins tab of the Ribbon, meaning there is no advantage to keeping them over adding new tabs on the Ribbon and learning new ways of working without them.
  • Learn about Themes and start in-house discussions on corporate colours and fonts. Is it time for a change? If so what? The new fonts that came with 2007, Calibri and Cambria are designed to be readable in both print and on-line format, so perhaps now is the time to look at font use again and determine the best fonts for the job.
    • With the new master template, design and apply the Theme in Word, so that corporate colours and fonts are the default for selection.
  • Learn about the Quick Access Toolbar. The main Quick Access Toolbar is user specific and resides on the user’s computer. However it is possible to add document specific commands so that they are specific to the master and secondary templates and will appear by default whenever a corporate template is used. The advantage of this system is that you can put core commands in the master template, different commands in each of the secondary templates to suit that document, and the users can still add their own. Note that you cannot put styles on the Quick Access Toolbar.
    • Determine which Commands should go onto the Quick Access Toolbar of the corporate master template and any secondary templates. 
    • Do any of the commands you choose to put on the Quick Access Toolbar replace commands on existing toolbars?
    • The document specific Quick Access Toolbar commands will append to the right hand end of the user selected commands. If the Quick Access Toolbar gets too long it gives you More arrows to see the hidden end rather than scrolling down to a new line. This can be a problem, but if you design the Quick Access Toolbar well enough users may be discouraged from customising their local Quick Access Toolbar, thus keeping your default commands displaying.
    • Will you need to cover in training the best way for users to modify their own Quick Access Toolbar so that they can still see the template specific commands?
  • Learn about the Ribbon and how to create new tabs.
    • For Commands and Macros from all existing Toolbars that you are not already placing on the Quick Access Toolbar, design and develop new tabs. Take the time to work out what should be on the QAT and what should be on the ribbon and where.
    • Normal navigation around the Ribbon is by using the mouse. Do you also need to train users to use shortcut keys to navigate between tabs?
  • Learn about styles and how to customise the Styles Pane.
    • Work out how many styles the Styles Pane displays on your most common screen size.  If it is 30, for example, work out which are you most important 30 and gives these value of 1 so that they appear at the top of the list and are visible at all times in the Styles Pane.  The remaining styles you can assign a value of 2 or more, so they appear below your top 30. 
    • In the process, determine if you really need all these styles and rationalise what you can.
    • You can also lock styles so that certain users are only able to use certain styles. If you want to keep your documents clean, you might want to limit the range of styles to particular user groups.
    • Make sure that the option to create new styles out of modified styles is turned off (that is the source of the char char problem)
    • Ensure that you teach users to work with the Styles Pane open, to replace having a styles toolbar.
  • Learn about bullets and numbers. Complete the Microsoft on-line training which you will find at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/training-presentation-word-2007bullets-numbers-and-lists-TC010220963.aspx?CategoryID=CT102036981033 so that you understand exactly how Microsoft intends you to use them. This is critical to getting them under some kind of control.
    • Completely re-do all your bullet and list styles, using the built-in list styles rather than creating your own.  Just modify them to suit your layout. If you need more than Microsoft has catered for, there is something wrong with your template design.
    • If you have worked out a way to make them reliable in your old templates, they should work in 2010.  If not, and you still get all sorts of indent issues, then adopt the solution I have documented on my blog for 2007, which still applies to 2010. http://christinekent.blogspot.com/2008/08/bullets-and-numbering.html  
  • Learn what Building Blocks are, and establish if there are any repetitive tasks around your organisation that should be stored as Building Blocks. 
    • Build any Building Blocks you need at template level.
  • Macros work pretty much the same way they always have.
    • Bring in all the macros you still need and test them. They should be fine.
    • You can dedicate a new tab on the Ribbon just for macros.
    • You can place them in the appropriate groups of other tabs.
    • You can put the most important of them on your document specific Quick Access Toolbars.
  • Have you worked through the whole book?  What else might bring about productivity or quality gains in your environment?
    • Do you have use for translation, collaboration, document sharing, accessibility features, security features, content controls for forms design, publish to web options? 

Once your templates are re-designed, you can work out what to train. I would think you would have to train at least:
  • The layout of the ribbon, and how to use keystrokes as well as the mouse to navigate between tabs.  That way they can get to your customised tabs from the keyboard rather than having to stop to use the mouse. 
  • How the Quick Access Toolbar, how to add and organise their own commands, and what to take into account in terms of your template specific QATs.
  • How to work with the Styles pane open so that they can see the styles.
  • Where the various toolbars and toolbar commands have disappeared to, and how to get to the old toolbars if they want.

Seems like a lot of fuss?  Not really.  For a few weeks of labour before the rollout, you will gain significant productivity improvements and save the inevitable years of headaches that will ensue if you do not get it right.

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