There's no such thing as a self-made man or woman in a political career. For all that confidence and attractive policies can work wonders for a campaign, it's impossible to succeed without having the public on your side.

Easier said than done; for starters, there will be rival candidates for the public to listen to, rival claims and policies. You'll have to be sure not only that your voice is the most audible, but also that once your arguments have the public's attention, they make the most convincing impact.

Ed is standing as an independent candidate in the marginal constituency of Dunny-on-the-Wold. How can he make this convincing impact? His first priority must be to ensure that he has appealing policies - attractive, comprehensible, and effective. But even the most positive and popular policies need to be seen in the best possible light. They'll need to be presented with style, consistency and clarity, and any campaign literature needs to be as eye-catching and engaging as it is optimistic.

Hopefully, the campaign will also have supporters who'd like to be kept informed of progress (and, perhaps, opportunities to do their bit to help), and with a bit of luck, the odd financial contribution. Ed has a small but devoted campaign team behind him, who can help spread the word, but he needs to make sure all efforts are coordinated to give him the best chance of victory.

Instead of being lost in a maelstrom of competing demands and plans, Ed takes an easier route. He uses Microsoft Office. With a suite of versatile (and wholly compatible) applications to hand, Ed can be sure to have the best tools available for every job.

Persuasive pamphlets

If Ed's hoping to convince local voters to back him, he'll need to get his message across to as many of them as possible; not everyone will pay attention to what he has to say, and of those that do, not all will be able to be convinced. Therefore, Ed needs to communicate with as many voters as possible, and a leafleting campaign can reach every house in the constituency.

Microsoft Publisher offers Ed a wealth of tools for producing the perfect pamphlets. With Publisher, it's easy to arrange text and images on the page, and to apply a consistent, clear and appealing style to make the most of his message. Key policies can easily be highlighted, campaign slogans can given a prominent position to catch the eye, and images or charts can be inserted to show how rivals have been letting the constituency down - perhaps photographs of those parts of Dunny-on-the-Wold that have suffered for a lack of investment, or charts (which can be created very easily in Excel) comparing local spending plans.

Ed can even build his leaflet from a huge range of ready-to-use, customisable templates, saving him time and making the process that much simpler.

Working together

Ed knows that he's not alone. He was initially talked in to standing for election by a loyal group of friends and supporters, who believe that he's by far the best man for the job, and who want to help him find the votes he needs - and Ed is hoping that, as his campaign progresses, he can persuade many more to join his team. Aware that having these committed followers is a great boon for his campaign, Ed needs both to keep them onside and to coordinate their efforts for his cause.

For the first of these tasks, he used Microsoft Outlook. He set up a simple mailing list for supporters new and old, and now sends out regular updates on progress (including the leaflets he designed in Publisher - which don't have to be printed to be effective). He also uses his mailing list to coordinate the plans of his campaign, ensuring that everyone knows what he needs to boost his position - where to campaign, which policies to stress, and requests for everyone to try and convince their friends and family to join up.

He also uses Microsoft Access to organise the efforts of his team. A database can be drawn up in an instant from the library of pre-built solutions, enabling Ed to keep an easily accessible list of supporters' details, as well as information about what they've been doing for the campaign, and what results they've found (including, importantly, what voters have been saying - if certain issues crop up regularly on the doorstep, they can be highlighted and used in canvassing).

Meanwhile, Excel can help if and when any financial contributions come his way; even though a campaign is a temporary enterprise, it must still be managed, with incomes and expenditures kept under close control.

Keeping time on your side

Standing for election isn't an open-ended venture. There's a very specific point at which it has to come to an end, when the results of Ed's effort will be in the hands of the electorate. It's vital, therefore, that he makes the very best use of the time he has available. Again, he turns to Outlook.

With the Calendar application, he can maintain a schedule of where he needs to be, what he needs to do, and what subjects he needs to discuss for the most effective campaign. He can highlight certain events and tasks as being more or less critical, and can also share his calendar with the rest of his team at the touch of a button. Similarly, schedules for the rest of the team can be coordinated through Outlook just as easily.

The challenges that Ed expects in the upcoming election will need to be faced with a range of tools, so he's prepared himself with a short training course in getting the most out of Office. Such a course can help you, too, whatever kind of project or campaign you (or your business) might be working on. And with the software and his newly developed skills, Ed can feel confident facing every opportunity that the campaign brings. All he has left to do is to prepare the grandiose, heartwarming speeches... well, maybe there are still some things Office can't help with!