Microsoft Office development and support
Virtually every company uses Microsoft Office XP, Office 2000 or Microsoft Office 97, but only a fraction are using these systems to their full potential. Microsoft Office can be extensively customised with templates, macros and database integration, any and all of which will improve staff efficiency.
The potential to customise and extend Microsoft Word and Excel is being exploited by 'power users' in many companies. The solutions they produce will often dramatically improve the efficiency of labour-intensive tasks. Problems can occur though because these solutions tend to grow organically and often without the knowledge of the IT department. We have come across situations where an individual Excel spreadsheet has become 'mission critical' but the only person familiar with how its calculations were performed was unavailable. IT departments tend to be suitably skilled to support network problems or troubleshoot Microsoft Windows, but unless support staff have a business or accounting background they may not be up to speed on complex Excel formulae or VBA macros. In such situations, we offer by the hour 'hand holding', should any of your power users find themselves out of their depth and need to be rescued! We can also undertake a project to rewrite the code if necessary, and to provide full documentation.
Amongst our development team we have several staff who are passionate evangelists for the capabilities of the Microsoft Office suite. These staff have a wealth of experience in supporting and configuring Word, Excel and Outlook and can design and build extensions to the products tailored to an organisation's working practices. Previous projects have ranged from the creation of the simplest of templates to complex financial modelling spreadsheets or integration with back-end systems.
We also have some very highly skilled Microsoft Access developers and provide support for Access databases developed in-house as well as being able to develop small or large databases and reports from the ground up. Access is a useful tool for reporting on data from other systems and this is something we have set up for several clients.
You may find our staff looking over the shoulder of finance directors, accountants or secretarial staff, working on an hourly basis providing support. Equally, for larger pieces of work we will meet with the users to gather requirements and discuss possible solutions, then produce a scope document detailing the work to be done and the costs. The signed scope document becomes the reference point during the project and further meetings are typically held with the key users as prototypes become ready for demonstration.
The following are just a few of the projects we have undertaken recently:
- An Excel macro that automatically reformats and summarises data from many spreadsheets and then creates a new Word document into which the summary data is automatically copied and merged with text to create a finished annual report. This document used to take 2 or more whole days to create, but now that we have automated the process it takes under 2 minutes! This means the company can now generate the report on a more frequent basis.
- Migration of multiple Word templates from Word Basic to VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) as part of an Office 95 to Office 97/2000/XP upgrade
- Design and production of an Excel-based solution to provide graphically represented management information from multiple data sources
- An Outlook-based solution that enables mailshots to be sent to e-mail addresses based on an opt-in subscription database with a Web front-end
- Creation of Word templates for all correspondence that gather information from the typist that is used to automatically file the correspondence within a structured network filing system
- An Excel spreadsheet that is used by sales staff to provide investment portfolio modelling illustrations
- Word customisation to distribute the printing of correspondence and file copies to different printers and different paper trays
- An Outlook solution for tracking technical drawings and other project-based documents that need to be shared amongst several departments
- A Word VBA macro to distribute the relevant parts of meeting minutes to interested third parties
- Outlook forms for tracking and approval of holiday requests... and more!
Our Office developers work closely with our training department and can provide one-on-one training sessions, concentrating on the more specialised aspects of Word, Excel, Access or Outlook.
Working together with our systems engineers we can use one of a number of automated methods for distributing and installing new templates to each user's desktop and can also configure the products to use central stores of templates on the server or to roll out a version of Office with restricted menu options and features.
If your Office installation is misbehaving, we are able to check the same reference materials and bug lists that Microsoft use internally and on the rare occasions when we cannot fix a problem or suggest a workaround we can refer to Microsoft's top-level support staff for help.