Imagine you are the CIO of a company and you just received on your desk a bill from Microsoft totaling $250,000.00 for Microsoft Office licenses. I imagine you cringe, but knowing you really don’t have a choice, you sign the PO request and rub your temples.
A quarter of a million dollars each year is a lot of money to spend when there is a free product out right now that can provide the same functionality. Did I mention the word FREE?. Well that sums up the decision most companies have to face, and the question becomes when can we switch and why haven’t we done it already. Unfortunately, the decision is not that easy.
I have been using Symphony for about two business weeks and I can tell you this. There is only one big hurdle I have: User Training. For the most part, the Symphony is as functional, if not more functional than the Microsoft Office offering. The difference is in what you know how to use, and how easily it is to convert from one suite to another. If I had a training department, and a user base open to change and experimentation I would say it is an easy decision. But we all know the reality of the situation, users are unwilling to change, and would freak at the suggestion that they give up their Microsoft Office technology to go to something new with a learning curve.
In all of my tests, the only package that performed better was Excel, and that was solely based on Symphonies harder to use charting system. In time, I know I will master the charting and the playing field would be even, but the learning curve and level of frustration was way higher than it should have been. Word and Powerpoint are evenly matched in Symphony, with the only real negative aspect of the program being templates and clipart (the clipart is HORRIBLE).
The last bit of concern most users have is the transportability of file formats between Office and Symphony. Let me be absolutely clear: I never had a single problem using an Office 2003 or Office 2007 file in Symphony. I also never had a single problem saving a document, spreadsheet or power point presentation built in Symphony and using it in Office 2003 or 2007. The format fear is complete poppycock.
So I have to give Symphony a thumbs up. I am so convinced it will work for me that I pledge to not uninstall it, or install a Microsoft Office product on my machine to give the product a full year long trial. At that point, every document I produce, every spreadsheet and presentation I create for work will be in Symphony. I can promise you this, nobody will realize that I did the work in Symphony. That in itself, should be reason enough for any leader of an IT department to consider the solution. With a bit of training, Symphony can save your IT department hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing costs. Just think, with all those savings, you can implement the VM infrastructure you always wanted!