Are You Dual-ing It Out?
By Donna Payne
LET'S FACE IT: It is difficult to maintain both Microsoft's Word and Corel's WordPerfect and keep your sanity. Why would any firm choose to keep both, when it involves double the investment to purchase both programs and train staff? The answer usually comes down to client demand. What software package do the majority of your clients use, and will you need to share documents with them?
Sometimes, it's the attorneys themselves who apply pressure. Some lawyers are zealots when it comes to word processing software.
You might ask, "What's the big deal? Aren't they both word processing programs? You learn one, you learn them all." However, the two programs are different, when you take a look under the hood. To really understand how to make both software packages co-exist within the same firm, you have to understand some of those differences.
Reveal Codes vs. Reveal Formatting: When editing WordPerfect documents, you apply character-based formatting to the text. The formatting is easily viewed in the "Reveal Codes" window. Word documents, on the other hand, use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). When you apply any type of formatting, you instantly see the results on the screen. Word also offers a reveal formatting option (Shift+F1) but die-hard WordPerfect fans often miss the ability to edit codes to change format.
WordPerfect Reveal Codes
Word Reveal Formatting
Numbering Pages: One area that requires a bit of a learning curve is how to format (or number) pages differently in the same document. In WordPerfect, you insert "Header A and B" and "Footer A and B." In Word, however, you must first insert a "Next Page Section Break" and then go into the "Header" and "Footer" and turn off the "Same As Previous" option.
Same Feature, Different Name: Both word processing programs offer many similar features, but just call them by a different name. Examples of similar features include WordPerfect's "QuickCorrect," which corrects misspellings on-the-fly. Word offers the same functionality with its "AutoCorrect" feature.
WordPerfect's "QuickWords" is the same as Word's "AutoText" feature. WordPerfect uses the term "highlight" to specify text to be modified while Word uses the term "select."
If you decide to become a dual shop, here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of success.
1. Communicate Frequently
Users need to know the reason why the firm has chosen to become a dual shop, and the consequences of what could happen if they don't follow the rules of usage. Explain how it will affect productivity, whether the change is recommended by a client, and the time frame for having both word processing packages up and running.
2. Establish Conversion Policies
Establish and implement a set of "rules" that instruct users on when to use which software. These guidelines should specifically focus on the restriction of working on a document in one software and then opening and making changes in the other. This practice is commonly referred to as "round-tripping," and it's a recipe for problems.
Don't fall for the advertising slogan that one program makes it easy to transfer documents back and forth. It's not that easy and it's a sure way to get a corrupt document. Also, don't trust the "Status" bar when it tells you to "Please Wait While the Document is being Converted" - because it is not being converted at all. The program is only opening the document to be viewable in the other software program. It still has the same save and formatting options set.
3. Customize Each Program
In order for users to work easily and proficiently in both programs, they must be set up equally. Each program should have similar firm customizations, including templates, macros and special formats. Common templates will include the firm letter, memo, fax, brief, and pleadings. It may also be necessary to create or purchase a numbering utility.
4. Configure the Software
There are settings in both Word and WordPerfect that you should configure before rolling out the software. One example is a Word feature, "Fast Save."It allows Word to append a list of changes in the document rather than integrating all changes in the stored work. This feature is meant to help you while working in documents, and the deleted information can be viewed using a text-editing program (such as Notepad) if "Fast Save" is enabled. WordPerfect has a similar feature called "Format Document Before Saving." It's critical to understand these features or to work with an integration specialist who knows what to turn on and off.
5. Training! Training! Training!
Because both programs are so very different, users must be able to understand how to work easily and effectively in either. Your I.T. department, "Help Desk" and trainers should attend extensive, in-depth training on both programs. They will be required to shift gears' quickly, and often under pressure from frantic end-users working under pressing deadlines. You may want to consider sending word processing operators to a similar class.
Start training classes for lawyers by pointing out the key differences between the two programs. This will not only help lawyers better understand each program; it will reinforce any previous training they might have received.
After you have covered the basic differences, move on to more specific features of the newer program and end with policies regarding when to use each program. Don't skimp on training on styles, numbering, section breaks, conversion, and legal specific litigation features.
6. Monitor Program Use
Given a choice, people will continue to use the word processing program they are most comfortable with. This is natural but not necessarily desirable. To maintain control of your documents and to verify that users are adopting the correct program under the appropriate circumstances, you should spot-check documents. The "Help Desk"can assist with the process by reporting on different call types and questions.
7. Repeat Communication
Send regular communications to your users reminding them of the established rules and policies for word processing usage. Communicate the importance of using the correct program in order to minimize document corruption and other negative consequences associated with not following the guidelines.
8. Solicit Feedback
Find out how your users are doing; what's working and what's not. Convene a group of users and ask them what they find to be most challenging about operating in a dual-shop environment. Ask for their opinions on improvements that might help to remedy those challenges.
9. Talk to Your "Help Desk"
Your "Help Desk" is on the front line, fielding a variety of support calls every day. Meet with them regularly to find out what the top issues or problems. Pass this information on to the training department so adjustments can be made to the training curriculum.
10. Use Your Intranet
Set-up an Intranet page, with links to FAQ's, tips and tricks, policies and other bits of information related to both word processing applications.
11. Provide Incentives
Test your users' proficiency in both programs on a regular basis. Offer on-going training and certification testing.
Post quizzes on your Intranet that focus on application specific modules. Let your staff download the tests and take them over a period of several weeks.
Give a gift certificate to staff who pass the tests.
12. Stay Current
Stay in the information loop. As upgrades are released, find out what you need to do to keep your system running smoothly.
Be sure you have the latest service release for each product.
Keep up with your clients' needs. Over time, your client base may shift and you may need to pay more attention to one word processor than another.
Keep macros, templates and customizations finely tuned and focused on maximizing ease of use while extracting and providing the greatest level of information.
Donna Payne is the principal of the Payne Consulting Group, based in Seattle.