Word and PowerPoint are Poor Formats for Many Types of Deliverables

Isn't it time to abandon Microsoft Word and PowerPoint as a deliverable medium for a lot of projects in favor of more useful formats? I recently was asked to help remediate an organization's enterprise architecture approaches and one of the first documents they handed me was their technical reference model in the form of a contractor-developed Word document.

I asked the PM of the effort what the plan was for leveraging it and the individual told me the doc was 'up on their Intranet'. I suggested and helped the organization move and update the document's content to a SharePoint site which allowed users to navigate standards by category and search for approved technologies by keyword or type of standard. We were also able to add more fields to each standard including level of complexity, licensing details, POCs, and other useful attributes. The total LOE was under 100 hours. Thankfully the CTO of this organization gets it and is very focused on driving value. But it made me wonder, why do federal contractors develop so much Word and PowerPoint-ware on every project? Wouldn't other more accessible, more dynamic, and more interactive deliverable formats be even more useful? Here are some illustrative ideas:


I've seen surveys sent in the form of Word and Excel files by contractors as well - with a massive aggregation process on the backend. Why not just host the survey online somewhere? If you extrapolate the investment in Word and PowerPoint content the federal government makes each year, and start to migrate future efforts to more accessible formats such as web pages and tools, the impact on transparency and value would be enormous. 

And no, putting these docs on a website is not the same thing - the information is buried inside something; structure and relationships between different sets of content and data are lost; and the opportunity to innovate and add value is limited by the medium itself. How accessible would the web be if all of its content were in Word documents displayed by file name: it's called a shared drive.

Bottom Line: On every project, think about ways to better leverage different deliverable formats and mediums to drive innovation and unlock the value of the investments made in developing the content.