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What you don’t know about your files can hurt your business

Although these files are an important and often vital part of daily business, few companies understand the potential risks and the business impact these files have on their company during – and after – migration.

Consider the following scenario: You’re a financial services company that has created a set of Excel spreadsheets that imports, consolidates and prioritizes data overnight. Each morning your accounting (or even worse, your trading) staff reviews these spreadsheets and base their day’s activities on these results. What happens when your staff arrives in the morning and their information wasn’t collected the night before? How will your company be affected if the information that seemed to be collected properly was actually days or weeks old?

In addition, an obvious concern is whether all of the company’s most important files are included in the backup plan. A typical approach is to create a shared location on the network where all users store their documents. This can have a negative impact on your business if the files stored in these shares are not the most current version (e.g., users have been emailing a copy of the business plan back and forth and making changes) or the files stored on the share are two or three years old and the company is wasting time and money backing up outdated files.

Upgrading Microsoft Office to a newer version creates a number of business risks. Files that contain VBA code may or may not continue to function with the new version of Office. With each release of Office, Microsoft adds new features to the VBA object library and modifies or removes existing features. These changes can cause VBA modules to fail with a compilation or runtime error preventing users from performing their tasks until the VBA code has been corrected.  This can lead to downtime, loss of productivity and even improper financial reporting.

Companies that are currently using Office 2003 or earlier and upgrade to Office 2007/2010 will have to adjust to the new file formats. Microsoft changed the file extension for all Office documents with the introduction of the XML file format in Office 2007. For example, an Excel 2003 file that has the familiar extension of “.xls” will become either a “.xlsx” or “.xlsm” depending on whether or not the file contains VBA code.

This may seem to be a small change, but consider what happens when all of your files are upgraded. Files that are linked to pass data will no longer function properly. For example, if you have a file that pulls data from “budget.xls” before the upgrade either the link that points to this file will break because “budget.xls” no longer exists (it is now “budget.xlsx”) or, even worse, “budget.xls” will be left on the network but all of the users will be updating “budget.xlsx”. This means the link to “budget.xls” will continue to work but it will be pulling outdated data.

With the availability of Windows 7 and Microsoft® Office 2010, 2010-11 is expected to be the biggest technology upgrade since Y2K.  As record numbers of companies migrate, most IT teams should expect to find and plan for “broken” files.

About ConverterTechnology:ConverterTechnology helps enterprises migrate to new versions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office without the risks, costs, productivity loss, and headaches that typically arise from enterprise deployments. By delivering automated software that streamlines migrations along with the expertise to plan, execute, and report on successful enterprise migrations, ConverterTechnology helps companies accelerate their time to productivity with the Microsoft platform.  ConverterTechnology is headquartered in Nashua, N.H., with offices in California, Europe and Australia, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Powerlan Limited.

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