Getting end users to buy into Linux/OpenOffice move

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CIO
Desktops
Implementation/Management
Linux
Vendors
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.

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One approach is to put OpenOffice for Windows on their systems, right beside their Windows Office programs. Let them see the degree of similarity in the tools they’ll most interact with. When they’ve bought into the apps, the switch to the desktop will be less traumatic – since they’ll already know the apps.

….sounds easy on paper, right ….

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  • Cptrelentless
    Are your users technical people, or just every day Joes? From my experience users have trouble navigating the start menu, let alone suddenly using a different program to write emails. The mind boggles at changing both OS and productivity suite. Forget it for anyone over the age of 35, as well. We fear change. Good luck, though.
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  • DrillO
    Communicate - train, communicate - train, repeat as required. It will be quite difficult if you have people that still have trouble with Windows and Office. Something new is sure to be resisted at first. If Management is behind you, great...if not, you will have a rough time. Best of luck to you. Paul
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  • JAS400
    I have three words for you: Training, Support and Training. In my experience, the more effort and willingness you put into educating people with practical hands-on training, the more they will be receptive to new things. It's all about managing change. On the inside, most wont care what OS or software they use, as long as it allows them to efficiently perform the functions that they have been used to performing. However, the minute that you "drop" something on them, and expect them to pick it up without help, walls are erected that are very, very difficult to penetrate. I've had experience cutting over small offices, and individuals to countless open-source solutions on both Windows and Linux platforms and have been met with the same resistance. I've found that providing a comprehensive training and support plan, which can mean doing the support myself or training their IT person/team, can take a lot of the "fear" out of going to a new Software package or platform. This won't work for everyone, but it's helped me oil some otherwise very squeaky wheels. Jay
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  • Bobkberg
    I'd like to expand on DrillO's comment about management support. If you DON'T have management support, you're wasting your time - regardless of how much money you stand to save. This is a lesson that I've had to learn very painfully. On the other hand, if you DO have management support - then make sure that you've crafted the intended environment very carefully with a handful of users - including your most supportive management members. Do trials and most importantly - get and use the feedback you get. If someone (or several someones) complain about "x", then figure out how to make that particular transition easier - get their input. If you are seen as working with them - as opposed to cramming it down their throat - things will go better. Bob
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  • petkoa
    Hi, I'd like to agree with cptrelentless, at least to some extent - I'm well over 35 ;o). But he's absolutely right about users having trouble with menu navigation... Probably you can spend some time inspecting the MSOffice and OpenOffice menus and, and write a small "cheat-sheet" - something like MSWord "Help for WordPerfect users" or Adobe PM6 "PM5 shortkey equvalences". It could be placed on the users' desktops, or on the company website, or you can even write a macros to display it from inside the programm and embed it in the menu; Looking at OO-2-beta and MSO-2000, it will be not very long... BR, Petko
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  • Poppaman2
    Sorry for the duplication - I replied at first to the previous thread, before seeing that all of the answers were here!!! Also, please axcuse the length of the reply. Certainly some good ideas above: training is the best concept since sliced white bread as far as getting people familliar with a program. What I wrote in the previous thread is (and my apologies for duplication of ideas, where applicable): "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 Windows workstations. Once the major office productivity tool has been replaced and the "beta testers" are comfortable with it, I would migrate this group 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..." Let me say as well that, depending upon your organization's size, it might not be a bad idea to have someone on staff temporarily (6 weeks, 3 months, whatever...) dedicated to user training during the cutover. This will take the training burden from your shoulders (assuming you are not the corporate trainer, that is...) and give your end users a person who they will not perceive as being bothered by all of their "silly little questions" (I use those words because most end users look at their issues as "stupid", and can be embarrassed to present them to IT). In addition, a dedicated trainer will be able to identify common issues and provide additional targeted subject matter/material(s) if there appear to be common questions or problems in your environment after the rollout.
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  • 916384
    I know several projectos here (in Spain) about a migration from Office to OOo. My recomendations are similar to the other people: training and support users are the most important things you should care about In any OOo migration proccess, you should follow some steps: - Choose a tiny group of people (2 options: people from diferent departments or only tecnichal), less reticent to changes - Allow them only to use OOo and not Office. They must know this will not be easy, because some thing will be different or have to be fixed, but it is a testing - Receive all their comments doing the testing and fix the problems - Train this group of people using OOo If this first step has been succesfull, you have a group of people into the company to support the project. Plan the whole migration by department (sales, marketing, etc.). Probably their problems will be different, because they use Office in a diferent way. The testing could be done using OO 1.9, but the big step needs the stable release (2.0), so wait for it before make the change.
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  • EPDIRECTOR
    Make sure they get a copy to install it easly on their home PC. Once they have it for free, they will start playing with it, makes the acceptance much easier. Ronny
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