Managing Microsoft Costs

In general Microsoft makes some great software. I think the office suite may be the exception. I really find Word difficult to use and needlessly complex. It is a classic example of “bloatware.”

The other thing that drives me crazy about Microsoft is their pricing strategies. They typically price their products below market at the beginning of their life cycle. Then, once we are dependent on them, they raise their prices well above market. What really makes their software expensive is their client pricing. When we install a new server with Microsoft software we pay for the software on that server AND an additional fee for a all of the PCs that connect to that server.

At my organizations, we pay more for Microsoft software than GE/IDX and MEDITECH combined.

Well, we are going to start to bring some sanity to our Microsoft spending. Recently a Ministry/Affinity team completed a project to develop Ministry and Affinity’s strategy for managing Microsoft costs, and I think they have come up with an outstanding plan. Not all PCs will have Microsoft Office. In clinical areas we will only install the free viewers. So, people can read Word and Excel documents, but won’t have the expensive software needed to create those documents. This requires extra work on our behalf, but the money we will save justifies the added effort 10 times over.

Also, we have made a decision to NOT deploy Microsoft SharePoint servers. we are using an ASP collaboration tool called QuickBase, which is much more intuitive and will be significantly less expensive.

Recently Microsoft rolled out their Reporting Services tool. We will not use that product unless a full analysis of the options supports that direction.

In general, I only use Word or Excel in rare situations. I never type a message in Word and attach it to an email. That only perpetuates Word usage, and it wastes the user time sine they have to open the email, then open the Word attachment.

We will not be installing Microsoft Access on any PCs unless there is a specific justification accepted by an IT manager. Usually QuickBase is a much better choice than Access since it is natively multi-user, easier to use, and much less expensive.

10 thoughts on “Managing Microsoft Costs

  1. Why not just install OpenOffice.org? It’s free and has all of the important features that Word, Excel and Powerpoint have.

  2. EMR and HIPAA, thanks for visiting my blog. I really enjoy yours.

    I installed OpenOffice once. It crashed from the get-go. Maybe I will try it again, but I don’t want to get fired.

  3. At my organizations, we pay more for Microsoft software than GE/IDX and MEDITECH combined.

    We can fix that for you 🙂

  4. I have to say I am quite happy with OpenOffice and never saw it crash. However, I am not a heavy user.
    They do take some getting used to, though.

  5. Actually you can easily manage Sharepoint services by appling the same methodology with Sharepoint as you do with any Microsoft license. A full office user may, emphasize may, in our organization have the benefit of a Sharepoint site. But with a Data Warehousing Team focused on developing Sharepoint WEBParts for our EIS we avoid the higher cost of EIS components coming from propriatary types of vendors. Since we license our MS Office users as Enterprise users we selectively hand out access to Sharepoint and limit that to folks that need to access files and systems across the enterprise from multiple locations.

    A very nice alternative to Sharepoint is using Sharepoint Portal Services. This non-full blown version allows you to easily distribute files to all of those Thin Client and PC devices that don’t have office installed but only have office readers. An example, we had programmed a magic program to extract our thousands of MOX Library files (Policies and Procedures, etc.) to a open folder within sharepoint portal services. We can preserve the attributes and the file is saved to the folder in htm format. As part of the process we can then appropriately categorize all of this developed MEDITECH MOX information. It allows for legimate search. So for instance looking for a nursing policy with the string “IV PUSH” in it returns a list of every policy and procedure that has that string. Overall a huge hit for our organization. Cost was about $5,000 for the server.

  6. We are working hard to only accept projects which including a staffing component. It is easy to fall into the trap of more porjects with the same amount of staff. But if you take a Total Cost of Ownership approach, any project will require a technical support group once it is launched.

  7. I use OpenOffice as well.

    Its MS Office compatibility is not bad and I don’t have problems with it crashing.

    However, it is the Office Suite especially Excel where MS is okay with me. However, their default system and the total lack of dev tools that comes with an MS install is really very depressing. Of course on can pick up the tools they need but get the checkbook out.

  8. I just wonder why so many IT professionals think of MS products as the (safe) baseline without actually calculating the total cost of using them. Instead any alternative is scrutinized in every direction. Is the MS products actually that good or is it just lack of knowledge of the alternatives?

  9. I am in the midst of rolling out Sharepoint Services 3.0 instead of MOSS 2007. SharepOint Services is free and is sufficient for us.

    I also use the MS viewers on low end users and their PC’s.

    I came into an environment where Open Office was installed.
    But many documents that were received were unable to be opened and incompatability was a big issue.

    We did move to MS Office since most of the PC’s had it already.
    I cant be sure if the version installed was the problem but I may give it a go in a test environment one day.

    But I love SharePoint!

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