Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Office 2010 – Start with Templates

When the assignment comes to start working on your organization's Office 2010 upgrade, don't immediately reach for the installation media. Due to its ubiquity, Office upgrades come with a far bigger opportunity to impact your organization's efficiency than most other products.
One of the major ways to impact the overall effectiveness of your organization is through proper template maintenance. Now don't get too excited, the work is hard from glamorous, and in many organizations requires a good dose of negotiating skills to get all of the appropriate parties on the same page. After all, most people are all for standards, as long as it is their way that is the standard.
For those that are not aware, Office has long included the functionality to support 2 separate template folders within each of the primary applications such as Word, Excel, etc. The first and most common templates folder is the individual's personal templates folder, which is located within their user profile by default. There is also a "Workgroup Template" folder available. Templates within the Workgroup Template folder are displayed to all users of the machine along with any personal templates they may have. The view is "blended" so there is no distinction between individual or workgroup templates.
Take the time and work with your user community to identify the common templates used throughout the organization. Collect and organize these templates so they can be easily found and included in a workgroup template location. Take the time to prune any templates that are no longer necessary and update any requiring attention. Also take the time to identify templates that are still needed. Ideally, every common form would have a corresponding template. This process will not be quick or easy, so it makes a far better place to start than with any of the other technology portions.
Once you have collected your organization's templates, you need to decide how they should be organized and distributed to the community at large. Some questions that you should consider are:
  • Is your collection small enough or generic enough that everyone should simply have access to all of the templates?
  • Does your organization have significant differences in their business units/departments that warrant distributing templates by groups?
Regardless of whether you decide to implement business unit-based distribution of templates or not, I am a big fan of placing a copy of the appropriate templates locally on every computer. This makes supporting mobile users much simpler as their company templates are there regardless of whether they are online or not. It also makes transitioning "master" locations much simpler. While the location is easily controlled via Group Policy, you have little control over when the individual machines actually update their policy, especially if they are off site often.
There are many options for keeping machine templates up to date, but most should have an incremental copy utility like ROBOCOPY at the heart of their operation. If you choose to use ROBOCOPY, make sure that you use the /MIR option to make sure that it cleans up deleted templates as well as copying updated ones. You may need to have a few copy steps in your process. One step should copy any "generic" templates. A second step should copy any business unit/department specific templates. Finally, a third step to cleanup any templates that should not be shown to the current user. If you prefer, you can also use file system permissions to control what templates individuals can see/use, but then whatever distribution method you use will need to support running tasks as a user other than the logged in user.
Here are some ideas on how you can kick off the update operation, choose the method that best fits your organization:
  • Login Script based deployment
  • Scheduled Task
  • Advertisement from your Management System such as SCCM or Altiris
  • User Initiated from a link in the Start Menu or off your Intranet

No comments:

Post a Comment