Imagine you're Jane in Contracts.
You hear about the new software that's coming. And there it is, on your computer.
You freak out, of course, because you've been working in Microsoft Office for ten years, you know just how things work, there are tweaks you've made you're very proud of, and all this work and knowledge is going to go down the frickin' drain. Because of those geeks in IT! AAAARGH!!! You'd like to take your computer and stuff it down the throat of the person who made the decision in the first place.
Now you, as the IT director, know that Jane can probably figure out a lot of it on her own. Given the right attitude, at least; the confidence that she can figure it out. But she's pissed. And she has huge deadlines looming and she's going to just keep working in Microsoft Office. In spite of all the lovely memos you send out about OpenOffice.org being the preferred software. Or she might just not do the work because she doesn't think she can. Or get halfway through her work but she has a question, she can't find the solution, you haven't given her a book, she's not used to online help, she's not the type who habitually googles online forums, she doesn't know that right-clicking or checking all the menus will turn up something useful, and she's frustrated and wants to go home and do the eight hours of work she has to do there.
And you're frustrated because you think it's easy, workable software and you don't know why everyone keeps calling you with questions.
They're not all calling you because they can't figure it out. They're calling to say “You plunked this on my desk, you didn't give me any help, you didn't ask my opinion or acknowledge that this will take some work, and I am going to make you PAY.”
Some of them, anyway. Enough to make a lot of people pissed and frustrated.
This is how it works when you bring in the software first without any documentation or training.
Now, there are others who might not be making noise and might not mind the change that much, but who really cannot figure out the mail merge and would like to be shown how. Or they have specific questions like how to create postcards in Draw, now that they don't have Publisher anymore.
And--well, frankly, it's fair when you bring in something new to tell people how to use it. You wouldn't buy your parents a new computer and drop it off without at least making sure they knew how to do the basics.
So what do you do about that? About the change aspect, the frustration that can come up, and just about how to show people the new ways to do their jobs.
Now, keep in mind that this isn't only about the software. It's also about change.
Not surprisingly, I think it's really important that new users have training. Before they have to start using it for their jobs, ideally, but anytime is better than nothing. Training teaches people how to use the software. And it helps deal with the change.
I of course think training is important because that's my business. ;> But I've also been there and seen how confused and frustrated people are, for the reasons outlined earlier. They come in to my class at 9 AM, and they're skeptical and annoyed. At 4 PM, they think they rock. They've had a chance to see how much they know and how many functions are easy to figure out. They've had a chance to ask those three questions about the stuff that they can't figure out. And they've seen that the IT group, or whoever's in charge, is committed enough, and cares enough, to provide training.
Happy users are more productive. Happy users say hi to you in the hall rather than growling. Happy users mean you as IT director are happy. And it doesn't cost that much to get all that.
Training makes a huge difference in those six hours plus lunch.
Users are so much happier about the switch, in general, at the end of a day of training. After four years, I've seen a lot of attitude changes, and it's clear the students are going to go back their desks and just tear through the projects that were taking them ages before. They even ask for CDs of the software, and of the workbook lab files, to take home! Honest. It happens. The change in confidence and attitude is great—it's why I do training.
Training doesn't cost much compared to how much you save.
In comparison to how much you save with OpenOffice.org (and with Linux if you switch to that too), the time and money to give all your users a day of training, at your site, is minimal. These costs cover everything, including travel and workbooks.
- I trained a small fire and rescue organization in Wyoming for $3,000 total, including two 250-page workbooks for each user. They saved at least $25,000 switching to OpenOffice.org.
- I trained the 300 users in a nearby Colorado city government for about $13,000. They saved about $250,000 switching to OpenOffice.org and Linux. (They're just around the corner from me, so there were no travel expenses.)
- I trained 200 users over three weeks, half getting two days of training each, for about $15,000. Each user got at least one 250-page workbook; some got two. It's a private company that contracts to NASA so they didn't tell me how much they saved ;> but I imagine it was a pretty good chunk.
See more about my training rates here and what they cover.
An aside: Most people haven't had training on Microsoft Office, either. It's interesting how many people don't know many standard Microsoft Office features, or that Ctrl C is copy. Imagine how productive your users could be given the time to get training on all their current software, whatever it is.
Site Licenses and Educational Discounts
Yes, you say, but there are 30,000 potential users in my school district. That gets into money. I can't possibly afford trainng.
Well, that depends. You're definitely a candidate for a site license, so that you have the right to print all the copies you want of all my workbooks, onsite. I discount site licenses heavily, and particularly heavily for educational institutions. If you're thinking of switching to OpenOffice.org for your school district, don't assume you can't afford materials for everyone. I also charge less for training groups with site licenses.
Yes, OpenOffice.org is free. That doesn't mean the transition is free—users need a little help getting going, and they need to know their effort is appreciated. Change, period, whether to a new location, new software, or new processes, takes effort. But the cost of getting users going on OpenOffice.org or StarOffice, and happy about it, isn't that high.
So think about it. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, just to get some more info or ask about the site license. I'm happy to answer any questions about how to help your organization become a lean, mean (but happy), OpenOffice.org-using machine.
Here are some references: