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GR Business Process Solutions provides bespoke software solutions to end-users, primarily within Financial Services. On a number of occasions, when we have been asked to provide specific solutions, we have been able to advise our clients that they have the wherewithal to meet their requirements from within their pre-existing office application suite (primarily Microsoft Office®).

This has become so prevalent that we decided to undertake some research to establish the current ability levels of Microsoft Office® users across the four main applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook). We chose to exclude Access, as our experience tends to suggest that there are two distinct users of this application – developers and data manipulators – with very different usage profiles and ability levels. This would inevitably cause complications that are outside the scope of this survey.

The survey was conducted online (through and we received 171 responses.

A detailed analysis of those responses forms part of this report; however, it is important to give some context to the likely background of the respondents and the data which they provided and which forms the foundation of the analysis, in order that correct and useful assumptions can be drawn.



Invitations to take part in the survey were sent to several email groups (UKHRD, Director’s Centre and several MS Office help groups) as well as individuals known to either of the two partners who run GR Business Process Solutions. For that reason the respondents do not necessarily form a compete demographic spectrum of all likely users of MS Office. As the survey was both promoted and carried out online we already know that it was only completed by those who use the internet and email regularly.

We would also surmise from looking at the broad level of responses that the respondents fall into two camps;

  • those whose use of MS Office is largely self taught and who are aware that they do not (or cannot) take full advantage of the functionality that they believe to be available.

  • those who pride themselves on being ‘power users’ of Office applications and were looking for the opportunity to demonstrate the comprehensive nature of their ability across all four applications.

This assumption is borne out by the preponderance of 1s and 2s at one end of the scale (i.e. elements that are either not used or only rarely used) and 5s at the other end (i.e. elements that are used and fully understood). There was a much lower incidence of 3s and 4s, indicating a low level of mid-range ability which is commensurate with a proportion of the population who fall somewhere between novice and experienced user feeling disinclined to participate in the survey.

However, and bearing all the foregoing in mind, we believe it is possible to draw some useful conclusions from the survey that will help to guide the focus (and spending) of training in relation to end-user skills. It is our belief that wise investment in these skills will bring about an excellent return on investment (ROI) in relation to the time saved in current office application use and the expense of buying bespoke software applications when they can be created by existing in-house end-users themselves.

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