Getting end users to buy into Linux/OpenOffice move-2

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We'd like to move from Windows desktops and MS Office to Linux and OpenOffice.org. Our users are concerned that they'll have to spend many hours learning how to use a new desktop. What's the best way to get them up and going quickly? We need them to buy in to this to make it happen.
ASKED: July 21, 2005  10:21 AM
UPDATED: August 22, 2005  12:19 PM

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For major technology moves like you describe, it is questionable as to whether you’ll be able to do this quickly…

What I would suggest is that you first identify those “powerusers” or the person/people who are the “ad-hoc” support network in your organization (you know, the people everyone goes to with little issues that they don’t, for whatever reason, want to “bother” the help desk with), discuss the situation with them, and first replace MS Office with OpenOffice on their workstations. Once the major office productivity tool has been replaced and the “beta testers” if you will are comfortable with it, I would migrate them to Linux. It might be a good idea to migrate the balance of your organization to OpenOffice at that point as well.

If you get buy-in from the ad-hoc’s and powerusers (who are very influential in the average office setting), more than half of your battle will be won…

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  • LarryTalley
    I agree with PoppaMan2 about getting early buy-in from selected influential people. But after the early adopters have bought-in, when you are ready to go to the masses, I think one way to address the legitimate concerns about having to learn to use a new tool is to provide training. From a users perspective, this is not a minor change (actually it isn't minor from any perspective! -- but the user perspective is what this thread is about). Years ago I was responsible for introducing Microsoft Windows into an organization.... I bought some training on videotape, arranged for space and computers and video gear for "classroom" settings in each major location, gathered some influential users from each location and conducted a "train the trainer" program to teach people how to facilitate the video-based training, and then we ran multiple sessions of classroom training in each major location. It was a big job, but since most of the cost was people time, it didn't require a big budget increment. At the end the users knew enough about the new tool to have some confidence. This made everyone feel like we cared about them and were trying to minimize the pain of the change... and since the training was more complete than any they had had previously on the prior platform, they actually found useful things they could do in Windows that they hadn't known how to do before... so that really helped overcome the resistance to change. So I think you should plan a serious training effort, involve some strategicly chosen users as early adopters and train-the-trainer participants, and ensure that the training teaches at least a few useful skills that the typical users hasn't previously been taught.
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  • Stevesz
    In addition to what has already been said, give the powerusers something really cool, not necessarily productive, on the desktop that everyone can see. If the cool factor is high enough, the concerns currently expressed by users have a tendency to disappear rapidly followed by requests to update their machines to the new OS so they can have this "cool" thing. Don't forget to have training for those who wish it, so they can become comfortable with the new apps as well. Steve//
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  • Ziggy2692
    I think before this question can be awnsered fully...why are you moving to a new OS and Office suite?..is it for personal reasons...licensing issues?...adminsitration? And the other question is how many users and workstations are you talking about?...migrating 20 users is not an easy task but when compaired to 200 users is a piece of cake. Depending on how many users we are talking depends on the speed you can make the migration. Another thing to think about is the ease of deployment. It has been my experience that linux has a much less robust central managment (I.E built in directory structure and policy managment...not that it can't be done...but not as robust and out the box ready). So depending on the amount of users we are talking about...this could be a long deployment, even if the users were buying in to it from the get go. Just my 2 cents Jessie
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  • Chuck603
    Something that probably has been thought of but not mentioned is the way the OS is different. We went from NT4 to XP and sharing/security of local folders and files has caused some learning curve issues. Stuff like a non admin can't net use a local printer in a batch file played havoc with some apps. Macros, macros, macros. I know everyone is mentioning client acceptance testing but do prove your environment will still funtion before starting the client buy in process. Also, if you're using a "coporate look & feel" making the new OS closely resemble that will help. If there is a button in lower left corner and it functions the same no one will care about its color or title. Finally there is the 80-20 rule. 80% can be done versus 20% who can't for some silly reason. So since one can't switch 20% of the clients will those two worlds still work together? Thanks Chuck
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  • Mks3rd
    Do you have the buyin from upper and middle management? You may think about placing some dual boot machines at the team lead stations and having them get used to the way the linux flavor you are loooking at works. Middle management buyin on a project can help you at the lower levels. If you have a go from upper management get them to help you choose the test pilots from middle management and let er rip. Dual boot machines should not be that hard to configure depending on the flavor of Linux you are thinking about using. Good luck
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  • Skp02in
    You can also consider virtual machine....on the same end user desktop and then ask them to try new OS and Office Suite...once they are comfortable you can plan to move...but for moving a whole organisation on to a different platform....it should be a justified...bfore taking any such decisions...on wher the company is headed what are its future goals and plans..etc You get trial edition of VM-Ware, you can take snapshot of one virtual machine..and then replicate it on several other machines(provided hardware is same)....snapshot can help you save time..
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  • CBK780
    I think there are some good suggestions that you have received. What is missing from my perspective is: 1. What's in it for the end users? In other words, why should we invest the effort? One answer is the rather draconian "because if you don't we will fire you." And that works but doesn't create good feeling. Perhaps you can find reasons that the end users would benefit from this change. 2. What are you doing to make it easier for them? Have you talked to them about their fears? Dot hey they fear that they will have to convert existing documents? What will they do when they are stuck and don't know how to proceed and they have a pressing deadline? It is natural for users to resist change when they are being asked to shift from a know environment to a new, potentially complex one in which they have little control. By all means, find some influencers within the user community. Make them early adopters and support the heck out of them. Make sure they have a good experience and you have lsitened to and addressed the concerns that they rais. Then let them spread the word that this is not going to be a horrible process. Charlie
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  • DrillO
    All of the previous have been very good.....all I would add is TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN!! By the way, don't let them think that this move is mostly to make your life easier. I have made that mistake and am still paying for it. They really need to think that this is mostly for them. Build a strong on the reasons for doing this and how it can make them (the users) happy. if you can succeed with that even in part, your life will be much happier. Also show how docs can be saved in MS format by default if they are worried about that. I know that a lot my my people were concerned with that as documents fly around all over the place and MS is the usual format. Good luck, Paul
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