I've blogged about it before; users have a deep emotional connection with Microsoft Office. I'm not talking about those of you that are super power users and make use of advanced features. I'm talking about regular clerical and office workers that are not creating documents much beyond set margins/bold this/italic/insert graphics and print. What we have found is that a lot of people really struggle with word processing, regardless if it's OpenOffice or Microsoft Office. The problem with deploying the former is that they are then able to "blame the tool", and as an IT member it's important to ensure that management knows the root of their complaints. The biggest comment that they make is "it takes 10 steps in OpenOffice to do what you can do in Office in 1 step". Of course, we all know that's absurd.
I have been working with Solveig Haugland for a number of months in coming up with a word processing test that follows closely the skills required for MS Office certification. A huge side benefit of creating this test is that we created a grid matrix on these features and counted steps in both products to complete the tasks. This type of grid can then be taken to management and you can show them that the 10-to-1 complaint that you hear is unfounded. The beauty of this plan is that going into the future, the more they complain the more management knows that they don't know MS Office either!
Here is a summary of the data.
No MS Office equivalent to OpenOffice feature: 36
Openoffice can be configured to work like MS Office: 3
OpenOffice has fewer steps than MS Office: 4
Identical language and steps in OpenOffice and MS Office: 68
Slightly different language, but same number of identical steps: 41
Different steps, but not more clicks: 15
and the big one:
More steps in OpenOffice vs MS Office: 3
This disproves the theory soundly that users are hindered by the steps in OpenOffice. If you aggregate the instances of OpenOffice being easier, you actually can build a case for OpenOffice being fewer clicks on commonly used features.
If your Governmental agency is struggling with funding, this is an excellent first step to take to reduce costs. It scales well on Linux and can be deployed to hundreds of people easily.
If you need training for your organization or would like to speak to Solveig about the test, feel free to contact her from her web site.