Tips to reduce risks, costs and downtime while improving accuracy and productivity

With the economy recovering and the recent releases of Windows 7 and Microsoft® Office 2010, 2011 is expected to be the biggest technology upgrade since Y2K. Therefore, Microsoft migrations are expected to spike significantly in the coming year.  The key to a successful desktop transformation is to properly plan and test throughout the process, to ensure file and application compatibility and to minimize risk, downtime and cost.

“Migrating to new Microsoft versions will be instrumental as companies strive to stay competitive, evolve with a changing marketplace and enhance their capabilities using innovative technologies,” said Shawn Allaway, President of ConverterTechnology.

Companies that migrate to the latest Microsoft versions will improve their ROI quickly and significantly.  In a study conducted by IDC, the investment for a Windows migration can be realized in as little as 7.2 months which, according to the study, resulted in a 375% return on investment.

“There are significant benefits to a Microsoft migration, but to many, desktop transformations mean increased headaches, so companies may fear – and postpone – this undertaking,” Allaway continued. “Recent reports are compounding this anxiety.  According to a new Symantec study, migrating to Windows 7 is presenting more challenges than any previous operating system migration. It’s vital that companies fully understand the planning and implementation process to successfully complete an enterprise-wide migration.”

Migration experts ConverterTechnolgy offer the following tips to reduce costs, errors and downtime often associated with migration, while increasing productivity, efficiency and accuracy:

  • Plan properly by discovering all of your Office files and defining the scope of the migration project, which is often a more difficult task than anticipated.  IT departments are aware of the disk space used for file storage, but may not know the actual number of files that need to be migrated, or which files are “business critical” since they don’t own or use the files. Even more challenging, many Office files reside on users’ desktops and laptops. Finding and migrating these files can be the difference between a successful deployment and a nightmare for the company’s IT staff.
  • Scope the size of the file migration.  This step will reduce both the time required to migrate files and the overall cost of deployment. A leading entertainment company faced major challenges when they realized they had more than 14 million office files to migrate. They decided to migrate only the most important and riskiest files, the ones that contained VBA, charts or links, which narrowed their target file set to two million. They further narrowed their focus to business critical files that had been modified within the past 18 months and remediated hundreds of thousands of files. The combined effort & cost to do this manually would have been enormous and subject to human error. They were able to limit the overall scope to files that were critical (and far more manageable) for a seamless Office 2010 rollout.
  • Copy business critical files to a migration lab. Although files can be scanned and converted in the live business environment, performing these tasks in a separate lab environment will limit the impact on users and the network during the migration process.
  • Scan the files for compatibility issues. Potential issues will range from chart formatting problems to VBA code that no longer runs correctly. After identifying compatibility issues, immediately correct these problems so employees can continue working without interruption when Office 2010 is deployed.
  • Test the migrated files, a critical step that’s often overlooked. While many of the VBA changes needed to make a file compatible with Office 2010 can be automatically remediated, some will require manual effort. For instance, Data Access Pages in MS Access will require manual remediation.   Beginning with the release of Office 2007, Data Access Pages can no longer be created or edited using VBA code in MS Access. Companies moving from Office 2003 must determine the best way to replace this functionality for their business.
  • Consider links between Office files, which is especially relevant and challenging for companies moving from Office 2003 (or earlier) to Office 2010. The new OOXML file format used with Office 2010 changes the extension of every Office file (for example, “.xls” becomes either “.xlsx” or “.xlsm”). A seemingly “minor” change actually means that every document that links to another document will either fail or point to an outdated set of data.
  • Anticipate non-accessible registry settings.  Applications that write registry entries during the installation process to sections of the registry that are not normally accessible to a standard user under Windows 7 can cause unexpected results and/or application failures.
  • Realize that non-supported drivers can cause problems. Windows Vista and Windows 7 introduced a new Windows Driver model, so older drivers – that were designed for Windows XP – may not load correctly on the new operating systems.
  • Watch for deprecated API’s. Applications that make calls to deprecated APIs, such as Memory Management, Windows Network Helper and Networking QOS, could display unexpected behavior or crash.

“There’s a distinct, systematic process to the desktop transformation, and the Symantec survey found that the migration to Windows 7 from Vista took an average of five hours per machine.  That’s obviously a tremendous time and manpower commitment for mid-and-large-sized enterprises, which is why Symantec recommended that any companies with more than 10 PCs use an automated process,” Allaway continued.

“Outsourcing to a migration expert will streamline the process, significantly reducing cost, downtime, errors and risk, while increasing productivity, accuracy and efficiency,” he added.

“ConverterTechnology is the only company to provide a comprehensive, automated Microsoft® Windows and Office migration solution that manages, tracks and reports on the entire process. Our complete suite of migration readiness tools is based on 10 years of best practices. ConverterTechnology has worked with industry leaders, including Fortune 500 companies, global financial and pharmaceutical corporations and the world’s most renowned theme park, successfully managing their migration and saving them millions of dollars during the process,” Allaway continued.

ConverterTechnology’s innovative suite of tools, such as OfficeConverter, DiscoverIT, AOK, Pinnacle Enterprise and Dashworks, bring tremendous value to the entire migration process, including planning, workflow, discovering files, identifying compatibility issues and remediation.