Assess processes ahead of Office 2007, say analysts

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Assess processes ahead of Office 2007, say analysts

Arif Mohamed

IT directors have been urged to assess how Office 2007, the next version of Microsoft’s Office suite of desktop applications, will affect the business processes within their organisations.

Analysts warned that Office 2007 would not be a straightforward upgrade, and firms might have to alter their business processes, train staff and manage more server applications. Another area users would need to address is Duet, an add-on that will allow SAP enterprise applications to be accessed through Office.

Clive Longbottom, service director at analyst firm Quocirca, said companies upgrading to Office 2007 would need to invest time in user training. “The new user interface is intuitive, but it is different,” he said. “This means that users will need to be trained in how to find everything that they are used to now.”

There could also be issues with Office 2007’s XML-based document format, Open XML, he added.

Legacy document support would be included, he said, but problems would occur if users translated documents to the Open XML format, as it would render them incapable of being read by previous versions of Office. In addition, Open XML-based documents will not be able to run macros or Office applications developed using Visual Basic for Applications.

Ovum senior analyst Laurent Lachal said that the Microsoft/SAP Duet add-on for Office 2007 might bring business process efficiencies, but only if companies had worked on their processes first.

“A lot of people have gone into business process management thinking it will make their life simpler,” said Lachal. “But if you look at integrating SAP with Microsoft Office from a technology and integration rather than a business process management point of view, it can make things more complicated.

“Integration itself is nice but will not automatically deliver what companies need.”

In addition, said Lachal, Office 2007 would be the biggest Office upgrade yet and require a number of server components such as Microsoft Sharepoint Server, SQL Server database, Exchange Server, Active Directory and Infopath’s server.

“From a maintenance and integration point of view, you will now have all these back-end servers and you will need to know how to use them,” said Lachal.

What’s new in Office 2007

  • Office Excel 2007
  • Word 2007
  • Outlook 2007
  • Powerpoint 2007 
  • Access 2007
  • Infopath 2007
  • Communicator
  • Publisher 2007
  • Onenote 2007
  • Groove 2007
  • Integrated capabilities such as enterprise content management, electronic forms, and information rights and policy capabilities
  • Add-on packages such as Microsoft SAP Duet.

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