Microsoft Office is used by millions of professionals worldwide and has become one of the top productivity tools in business. Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification has emerged as the leading way for companies worldwide to valid Microsoft Office skills, increase their employee’s proficiency, and strengthen the overall company to help meet the demands of the modern workforce. Through this mission, DENTSU SOKEN INC., in Japan, is using MOS certification to inspire continuous learning and foster a sense of unity among project members.
DENTSU SOKEN INC. has been specializing in the fields including system integration and strategic consulting and working on supporting businesses, as well as society, by providing their cutting-edge IT solutions, technology and expertise. The company's Financial Management Solutions Department has encouraged all project members, including IT technicians, to obtain MOS certification.
Mr. Norio Kaneda, General Manager of the department, speaks about how MOS was introduced and the positive effects have been brought about to the organization.
How did you come to adopt MOS?
Our department began using the MOS certification program in 2016. For 10 years prior to introducing MOS, we were using software-engineering certifications as part of our internal training program. However, we were looking for a more versatile certification program that would be relevant to a broader range of job types. When we create a team for each system development project, and as the scale of the project grew, the team often included not only IT engineers but other members, including general affairs staff. That made us decide to adopt MOS, an industry-recognized certification of global standard, which allowed all team members to acquire useful skills for their work.
What does the project life cycle look like at DENTSU SOKEN INC.?
Our projects typically start with a small team at the stage of initial requirements definition. Once the system design is complete and program development starts, we increase the number of team members to develop software intensively in a short period of time and then, reduce the team size again as the project is nearing completion. Since the team size needs to be changed during different phases of the project life cycle, it is difficult to form a project team solely with our internal human resources. As a result, our project members must collaborate with a number of external technical partners who belong to other companies.
Are all team members given the opportunities to certify in MOS?
Yes, all team members, no matter which companies they belong to, are given the opportunities for skills training and learning if they wish because they are colleagues who work together on the same project. Since many team members come from external technical partners as mentioned above and are the mainstay of the project, it is important to develop an organizational culture in which they contribute willingly to the project. We are not in a position to directly reward the external members financially for their contributions, but we believe that the experience, knowledge, and technical skills gained from working as a project member will enhance their practical skills and will provide them with valuable assets and a competitive edge.
Offering MOS certification is also a part of this concept. We expect the team members to leverage their MOS skills in the projects they work on. In addition, the skills mastered through their learning efforts will remain with them. It can also be leveraged in future projects and/or in their organization as well. We consider that we are offering the technical experience and skills, including the Microsoft Office application skills through MOS, as non-monetary rewards to the members who have worked so hard for our projects.
How do you use MOS in your training program?
First, we send an email invitation to all project members to take three exams, including Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. If someone declares which certification exam they are interested in taking (e.g., "I'll take Excel on the 00th!”), we will send them a package of MOS preparation materials and an exam voucher. We then ask them to schedule their exam with a Certiport Authorized Testing Center and to take it within one year. All participants will share their exam results in a ranking format (passing scores only).
Many members work remotely from distant areas such as Hokkaido, Takamatsu, and even from abroad such as China (Changzhou and Shanghai). It is often difficult for remote workers to “feel” that they are “working together” with others. However, going through a friendly competition in taking MOS certifications and sharing the scores, they begin to fully realize that they have good colleagues that inspire each other.
For example, a member who passed the MOS Excel exam with a score of 980 points was further motivated to mark 1000 points in their next Word exam. Also, we have seen some members interact beyond generations, such as a re-employed veteran in his 60s being inspired by a younger member and deciding to take MOS. Those who passed all three exams celebrate their success by having a nice lunch at a luxury hotel. It is through sharing photos of these celebration events that further enhances a sense of unity among the project members.
What positive effects have you seen through MOS certification?
When someone is successfully certified, we ask them to report their score, what they thought about the experience, and what advice they could give to the others who are preparing to take MOS certification. Many say that they learned new tools and knowledge through the learning process and are eager to use them in their daily work. Here are some comments from our MOS-certified members:
- I learned how to use new features that I had never used before. Having learned systematically, I find it easier to apply my skills and knowledge in the real world. (Excel)
- I learned knowledge which I can immediately put into practice. In the past, I used to spend much time in looking up which tools to use and then trying to use them without confidence. Now my productivity has improved because I know how to create documents more efficiently and with much less rework. (Excel)
- I am glad learning how to edit slides efficiently and how to use detailed settings. There were many interesting discoveries through the learning process. (PowerPoint)
Engineers working in the IT industry are destined to learn constantly and try to keep pace with new technologies and software. They need to develop a mindset and attitude from the start that "it is natural to study" and "it is natural to obtain certifications”. For the new graduates who are starting their career with us, we hope that with every small success they experience from the process of taking a MOS certification, they will build confidence, an attitude to continue learning new things, and a desire to advance in their career.
Learn more about Microsoft Office Specialist certification here.
(This article is based on the interview in June 2023.)
About DENTSU SOKEN INC.
With “HUMANOLOGY for the future” as its corporate philosophy, DENTSU SOKEN INC. (formerly Information Services International-Dentsu, Ltd.) has supported digital transformation efforts of companies and the society by providing strategic consulting for various solutions through its four business segments of Finance, Manufacturing, Business and Communication IT. In addition, the company facilitates the X (Cross) Innovation across the technological, industrial, corporate and regional boundaries to produce solutions that will bring about evolution and cohesiveness to the society, customers and consumers.
Renamed as DENTSU SOKEN INC. on January 1, 2024, the company will evolve beyond a system integrator and establish/enhance capabilities in insights into people and society, creativity in business and services, and designing and producing skills to solve social and corporate problems. It also aims at long-term sustainable development through higher competitiveness in the business and labor markets by leveraging corporate rebranding.