With the advent of more advanced versions of MS Office, the need for training within your company may need to step up a notch, too. When Microsoft Office 2003 gave way to 2007 and 2010, it looked radically different to most users, even those familiar with the suite already. Usually, there needs to be some training in place before your business upgrades its software in such a dramatic fashion.

If your company is large enough to do this in-house, then great - but most small businesses were left having to seek out an external training provider in order to get their staff up to date. Here are five essentials to look for in a training provider, should you have to make the decision to seek one out.

1. Ensure their training products include the latest versions.

For example, if your company was behind the times a little and was ready to stop using Office 2003, there is little point in getting trained up on the next version (in this case, 2007) if it's already been superseded by Office 2010. Some training companies even get beta or preview versions before the formal release, so you could even book training to prepare your workforce in advance of any new developments, rather than playing catch-up after they have already been rolled out.

2. Look for a well-equipped venue.

If a company claims to expertly train you in recent software, make sure they are running it on hardware that can cope with the new features being thrown at it. A good training company will know the minimum specifications to run their software portfolio on, and will upgrade their hardware accordingly. Also, there should be a computer to each trainee - in software, very often we learn by doing, not by watching one person doing it and trying to emulate this in the workplace later.

3. Floor walking.

You may consider this as part of your choice of venue, but there should be enough trainers around to answer any questions. With software like Office, there are many initial queries (finding icons on the ribbon, using the SharePoint server, and so on). While using these, it's handy to have a floorwalker around for the quick-fire questions that come out of a training environment in progress.

4. Learning the best way to suit your company.

For training on Office, the provider should be able to tailor it to your company, if that's what you want. For example, an accounting firm may be most interested in the changes and new ways of using Excel, whereas a graphics design company may well want to know more about Publisher or PowerPoint. This needn't be bespoke training (although that is a good sign if it's available to you). The greater your awareness on what Office needs you have, the more able you will be meet them.

5. A good follow-up.

Unless your staff are extremely quick learners with amazing memories, the chances are that once they've learned the new version(s) of Office enough to use them, something will come up that they need to know, or they will forget some things in the transition from the old version. Your trainer should have a follow-up system to ask such questions or clarify points after they have left.

This should give you an idea of what to look for when training your office in Office. It would be wise to seek out a good training provider before the next version comes out, as no doubt the best ones will be booked up around the time of a new release. Preparation means you'll stay ahead of the game in training, and your office will run far more smoothly as a result.