Thursday, 24 July 2008

Microsoft Office User Group for IT Pros?

Are you looking for an online community for IT Professionals who support and deploy Microsoft Office and related desktop technologies? I'm thinking of starting one, so please leave me a comment if this is something that interests you!

I've been in IT over 14 years now and I must have spent about twelve of them bitching about how little focus and recognition we get in the desktop space. No matter how extensive our expertise or what benefits we can deliver for our businesses, the plaudits mostly go to the folks who spend their lives in front of server consoles.

Since the Excel 5.0 and Word 6.0 Resource Kits (so the early-to-mid '90s) Microsoft haven't had a technical manual or training course aimed at supporting Microsoft Office. The more recent Resource Kits are mostly aimed at deployment, and while this is all necessary stuff, we're supposed to learn how each product fits together well enough to support it from whatever we can glean from the mostly sketchy information in KB articles. (The recent and mostly excellent blogs from the Office product teams are a rare exception to this, but hardly comprehensive.) As for proving our expertise... well we can get certified as an expert user, trainer or developer, but there are no certification paths for being the best-of-the-best at supporting the Office suite. No wonder most people in desktop support don't hang around long enough to become real experts.

Anyway, anyone who knows me will tell you how I hate people who moan about their lot in life but won't make an effort to try to change it, so this post is about doing something to fix the situation.

I'm thinking of setting up a user group. ('User' is already a misleading name, but that seems to be the accepted term for technical communities loosely affiliated to Microsoft and their products.) I know this isn't going to suddenly change perceptions that have been around for at least as long as I've been in IT, but joining together as a community of experts and getting back on Microsoft's radar has to be a good place to start. I haven't entirely decided on its scope but I expect it will broadly cover support and deployment of the Microsoft Office desktop products, with some related Windows and server technologies but from a desktop perspective. Supporting and deploying to large organisations is an area of particular interest to me so I hope we'll have some focus there.

If this is something you'd find useful, or better still would want to join or contribute to, please let me know through the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    I'm in for your idea. There is not enough info about supporting MS Office. I'm living a real nightmare trying to figure out all the problems my users are having because of the upgrade from office XP to 2007. The office online is not all bad but a lot of stuff is about using the software more than fixing the problems.

    Hit me up



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