The State of Microsoft Word in the Enterprise

By Deane Barker • Posted on September 10, 2005

One thing that continues to amaze me is how poorly people use Microsoft Word, considering its dominance in business word processing. The “barrier to entry” for a Word user is extremely low – just open it and start typing – so very few people bother to learn how to really use it well.

I spent three hours yesterday cleaning up some poorly formatted Word documents for a client. They were an utter wreck and just changing the font and logo for the company took 30 minutes per document. Thankfully I got them put back together in a state that ensures they’ll be easier to change in the future.

The whole thing got me wondering what the ROI would be for a large organization to send everyone to classes on Word and to develop some kind of over-arching “word processing strategy.” For the amount of information that’s contained in Word documents in the average organization, they really don’t get much attention.

Some things I know:

Read this document for a top-level list of Word no-nos that just about everyone does unless they’ve been explicitly trained otherwise. Now, in order to not to be Fabian-esque, let me say that the consequences for making these mistakes are not fatal, and a lot of organizations do the same thing as you, so don’t feel bad. Think back – when was the last time you had a training class on Word?

(Let me tell you, though, that these things are not wasted. When I worked for Citigroup, they sent me to two four-hour classes on Microsoft Excel. When they told me I had to go, I thought it was silly, but I’ve used the information I learned in those classes over and over again since then. Not a week goes by that don’t do something with Excel that I wouldn’t have known about if not for those two classes, six years ago.)

Humor me for a minute: think about how much you know about Word, then ask yourself some questions –

I’m not saying that I’m the be-all and end-all of Microsoft Word, (this man is), but I’ve done a fair amount of research on it – certainly enough to believe that larger organizations really need to develop a word processing strategy. They need to think about how they’re using Word, how much data is contained in Word documents on their network, and how they could be managing the data better.

There are countless hours of wasted re-work that goes into maintaining Word documents that could really be avoided. I’m thinking there’s a decent market for a “Word consultant” – someone who comes into an organization and does nothing but evaluate and fix how they’re using Word. I’m betting the ROI would be huge.

This is item #270 in a sequence of 356 items.

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