Open Source Migration: OpenOffice.org Migration (part 0)

Few days ago I wrote my first post about migrating from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org, but I want to start it all over from the very beginning, step by step.

Andrea Trasatti after my post asked me more details over a skype conversation, and I decided to translate and share a slide-show about Migrating to OpenOffice.org.

The slide-show was originally produced by Davide DozzaPLIO President and co-mantainer of the Italian Lang OpenOffice.org Project – in collaboration with Carlo Daffara, involved with COSPA project, and myself. I eventually used it at a Java Conference back in 2005, when I gave a speech on the subject.

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There are many reasons to migrate to OpenOffice.org, ranging from cost savings – apparently still the most appealing reason for a change – to legal motivations or social ones. Last but not least the escape from vendors’ lock-in, considering that the choice is getting wider. To be honest there is even another reason why firms look into OpenOffice Migration: ask Microsoft a (big) discount!

Whatever is your reason, you should consider to have a look at “supposed problems“, things that people are going to mention as big (unresolved) issues. Among them it is worth to highlight that one of them – functions appear to be elsewhere – is not as critical as before. Why? Just have a look at Office 2007, and wonder how long will it take to bring your employees to be productive using it!

You’re not alone, many others have already traveled your road, so please take your time to look to successes and failures as well. Look at the Market share analysis, despite the difficulties due to the informal OpenOffice.org distribution process, they are meaningful and, at some extent, encouraging.

Every migration involving end-users has to cope with psychological issues, because people don’t like learning to use new tools, and motivations are needed to overcome inertia to change.

As matter of fact Communication is important, in terms of Internal Marketing, and customized version of OpenOffice, peer-learning and intranet tools could greatly help in this respect.

Despite Big-Bang migration could sound cool, they simply don’t work. So once you have done a deep analysis of the situation, analyzed your documents and identified homogeneous class of users, you’re ready to go. Step by step.

Outsiders, i.e. technlogical leaders also known as “champions” in the COSPA terminology, are those people to whom colleagues ask for hints and tips about software tools. Those people are key in a migration, both because they can help others or, if unhappy, prevent the migration to succeded.

Migration tools and Enterprise management tool are still few, so if you use applications integrated with Microsoft Office don’t look for “packaged services” and consider go alone. But, if you are an IT firm, keeping in mind that European companies are often SMEs, and that the Public Sector – where office suite are often used as an individual productivity tool – is seriously wondering about OpenOffice migrations, consider that there is plenty of space to run a business on OpenOffice migrations.

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