|If you plan to go Open source you need to go all the way. |
Tinkering with partly Microsoft products and partly Open source products will only frustrate your people,
You will need a plan and you need to stick with it - through a lot of smoke screens and protests - that is they road to success.
Munich and Freiburg are two Cities that both opted for open source.
But there the similarities pretty much end.....
It is little wonder that the councils in both Munich in 2003 and Freiburg in 2007 voted to migrate to open source software. The outcome of the two processes, however, couldn't have been more different. All 15,000 desktop PCs in Munich's city administration now run OpenOffice and 12,000 of these have switched from Windows to Linux. Millions of euros have been saved and the city is proud of its pioneering LiMux project. In Freiburg, by contrast, after years of torment, the OpenOffice migration project has now been abandoned and the council is reverting to Microsoft Office. A switch from Windows to Linux in Freiburg was never even tried.
So is this only because the Germans are smarter than the Swiss? Mostly it has to do with their determination and stamina and ability to organize well.
It makes you wonder what can be so hard about switching from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. The question is even more pertinent in council offices, where it's a matter merely of switching from one word processor to another. Much of the council's work involves document templates; simple templates are easily converted or can be rapidly recreated, but converting more complicated templates containing fields, macros and form functions, and converting mail merges from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, is not quite so simple
And then there is the already established dependency towards Microsoft:
Then there are the notorious specialist administrative procedures: municipalities use up to 100 different applications to perform everyday tasks such as residential registrations, vehicle licensing, business registrations, planning and town clerk activities, youth and social work, and administering nurseries, property and cemeteries. This frequently involves bespoke software written specifically for an individual council's administrative staff. These specialist applications frequently rely on Microsoft Office to generate and print documents, save their data to Access databases or are implemented in their entirety in Microsoft Office (it's amazing what you can do with involved Word or Excel macros). All of this is difficult or impossible to implement in alternative office software.
Munich decided to go for control and independence where Freiburg caved in.
Both Munich and Freiburg went through this experience. Munich learnt the lessons of its teething troubles and developed WollMux, a tool for administering OpenOffice templates and template text blocks. The tangle of existing IT structures was tamed. The procedure for converting to open source software was modified to incorporate pilot projects in which problems were detected and resolved prior to a wider roll-out. This saved a lot of staff a lot of frustration.
Smart people these Germans...