The world has been turned upside down. In fact, to be honest, it hasn't merely been turned upside down, but also spun about, pulled this way and that, and shaken until the loose change fell out of its pockets. The smooth, straight road onward has become a rollercoaster with a few loose bolts; the calm duckpond on which we floated untroubled suddenly turned itself into Cape Horn on a bad night. Ever since global finance commenced its inexorable charge towards an outright crash in 2007, the stability and comfortable prosperity we'd learnt to take for granted has been replaced by uncertainty, chaos, and the most dynamic and unpredictable economic situation in living memory.

All of which makes for a very difficult time for business. Yet not an impossible one. The companies that survive the current climate, indeed thrive in it, will be those most able to adapt and to withstand whatever the new order throws at them. Reacting dynamically to changes as soon as they come along has become essential for every organisation - and so have tools and techniques that help businesses to do so. Having the best tools, and knowing how to use them, makes successful reaction much easier to achieve, and puts it within reach of the vast majority of us who aren't born to sail untroubled through crises.

This is where Microsoft Office comes in. Software, unlike most people, is unfailingly flexible, and can adapt in an instant to any new situation. Take, for example, Excel. After all, what's more important than keeping an eye on your company's finances is these precarious times? But Excel can do a whole lot more than simply storing numbers.

If everything is perpetually changing, then clearly, it's going to help if you know just what the impact upon your company is, and know it as soon as it happens. Conditional formatting gives you exactly that. Excel can highlight any aspect of your data with appropriate colours or icons as soon as it alters, so you can see instantly if there's been an increase or decrease, and where it's happened - allowing you to deal with any problems or take advantage of any good news right away. And it's easier still to adapt to a new situation if you knew in advance how you were going to deal with it; fortunately, Excel can help you to predict the future, with realistic and effective what-if scenarios provided through its Solver plug-in.

Of course, as critical as financial data is, it's not necessarily the only important data that your business will keep. Any kind of information about your organisation, your clients and customers, your stock and your staff can be maintained in an Access database - and from there, it can also be analysed just as in Excel. So the conditional formatting, the what-if scenarios, and the understanding of exactly where your business right now, where it's going, and how you can react to the changes that buffet it, all are available at your fingertips for whatever kind of information your company utilises.

Yet if your organisation employs anyone other than yourself, it's not going to be enough if only you understand the changes and their impact. All that knowledge about the present and likely future that can be developed using Excel and Access will need to be shared with others in the business, ensuring both that the information goes to the people most able to act upon it, and that it can be used to form constantly evolving company-wide policies.

Office gives you a number of tools to help you to communicate and to keep the business moving forward. When you need to share this knowledge with colleagues, there's often no more effective and engaging method for doing so than a PowerPoint presentation. Clear and concise information can be presented with elegant and informative graphics, animations and video, providing a simple and direct understanding of the key details.

It's often important to back up these details with a more in-depth assessment of the situation, and a Word document is perfect for communicating larger amounts of information while still retaining an appealing style. And when it comes to getting this data out to colleagues, Outlook can help you both by providing email and personal messaging, and also through its calendar tool, allowing you to schedule meetings at a time when everyone is available.

Coping with the kind of economic climate in which we find ourselves isn't easy. Times are tough, and you're going to need someone on your side. With Office, you'll find all the support you need to be able to understand an ever-changing situation and to react to it immediately. Get left behind, and your business will likely be doomed; stay on top of every new scenario, and you'll give your organisation the chance, not merely to survive, but to flourish.