When implementing free and open source desktop software, public administrations should gather feedback through user surveys, says Eric Ficheux, change management specialist at Nantes Métropole, France’s 6th largest city. “Good news comes only if you organise feedback”, he says, adding: “Survey data cannot be challenged by project opponents, and helps to defend against foul play.”
IT project and change manager Ficheux recommends regular polling of users. “It lets you quantify risks and opportunities.” Ficheux talked about Nantes' migration to LibreOffice at the LibreOffice conference Brno (Czech Republic) last month.
In April, Nantes Métropole completed the switch to LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. LibreOffice is used on all of the city’s 5,000 workstations (PCs and laptops). Nantes spent EUR 500,000 on user training and advanced user support (Tier 3).
Ficheux also advises public administrations to run small-scale experiments, to see what happens without change management. This helps to tailor the final change management process and focus on the issues users find most-important, he says. These experiments precede the pilots, which include change management.
The experiments taught the IT department that when installing LibreOffice, the proprietary predecessor should be removed. “If a workstation has both, users will revert to the old tool whenever they have a difficulty”, he says.
In Nantes, 75 percent of users switched without reporting significant difficulties.