Microsoft Office products come with three mainstay software products that serve document development, financial tracking and data management for the single user or small office environment. Sole proprietorship and small businesses can use MS Office products to provide all necessary business services and information processing services with customization and adaption capabilities built in, that can suit one-of-a-kind requirements.
What is the case for using a proprietary office productivity suite rather than open source? In a certain sense, the adage, you get what you pay for can apply. Sure, open-source software has no cost upfront. However, I have found in my experience, that it is much easier to develop custom solutions in a Microsoft ecosystem. I can find code examples easier and Microsoft makes it easy to find whatever resources an application developer might need. When a consumer adopts Microsoft’s products, they’ve paid up front for future benefits that enable the software to be customizable and adaptable to whatever the business needs. This ecosystem, at the lowest cost level, is very reasonable in price from the perspective of developing custom solutions.
Sure, I’m also intrigued by that open-source office products can do. I’m glad the market provides that opportunity. But for a proven standard I’d say that MS-Office is developer friendly, has more developer resources and provides better options for custom software development. For VBA Code, the internet is awash with documentation due to its longevity. Visual Basic for Application (VBA) code from decades ago, still works and continues to work. The platform code base is very stable and isn’t going way. All bugs one might encounter have well documented fixes or workarounds, so a developer is confident that any issues can be resolved. Furthermore, Microsoft aggressively remediates issues and applies fixes regularly. That is great support you don’t have to pay extra for. Microsoft is a large, global business, and its a very profitable business with a focus on software excellence. It is quite likely to be around for a very long time. I admit I’ve played around with open source options but I keep going back to Microsoft Products. While not perfect, the software gets bloated trying to do too much. Even so, the basic underpinnings permit easy and exact customizations that will fit any scenario. Furthermore, it is much easier to hire VBA programmers as they are more numerous and will often do work at a reasonable cost to the consumer. If you go that route, make sure to convey your business requirements in a well worded document with some good ‘use case’ examples.
So overall, when you invest in office productivity suite, consider the long term and how the software will help your business achieve its goals today and tomorrow. The piece that is most significant remains the assurance that Microsoft programs can be easily customized to do whatever the customer needs. I’m especially impressed with how easily Microsoft Access Databases can be built up and customized. The product is stable and well documented and easy to program.