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The Performance Support Spectrum, Part 1: Is Your PS Information-Driven or Support-Driven?

Written by Bob Mosher

Originally published on the Performance Support Community website on 11 March 2013

Like many of you, we’re on the move—a lot. It gives us a chance to visit and talk with many of you about your learning challenges, including how you support performance in your organization. We’ve seen everything from the most basic to the very advanced in performance support. We learn a lot from you as we do this.  Our industry’s understanding of performance support has been growing and maturing because of all of you.  Through it all we’re seeing organizations experience and measure exponential business benefit. Working with you and helping you transform your organizations in this way is some of the most rewarding work we have ever done!

Performance support initiatives often begin with gathering information in a single location. It may start with the launch of an intranet site or portal, with many companies using tools like SharePoint. It’s an initial attempt to collect and organize resources that workers find helpful and make them available in a central location. Some of you are at that stage today.

As many of you know, it doesn’t take long before this list of resources grows into chaos. Finding a particular piece of information you need means sifting through lots of text in lots of documents, e-learning courses, training manuals, and the like. It’s like sifting through your drawer of instruction manuals, looking for the one manual you need, only to have to read through every page to find the one paragraph of help you really need. It can be a bit of a scavenger hunt.

At the moment of “Apply,” there isn’t time to play that game!

What we see next in the performance support evolution is the move to incorporate all of this information into a more powerful retrieval system–often a more formal knowledge management system. This provides much better access to the information, including enhanced search, mobile applications, and specialized standalone portals. It allows for better and more targeted access to information. Think of it as someone handing you the right instruction manual, maybe with a few key pages ear-marked. This is a nice step forward, for sure, but—for the most part—it’s still just information! For on-the-job performance, the employee must then take this information and translate it into tasks and steps in order to get the job done—both of which require time and effort to reach. In a pressing work environment, there just isn’t the time, nor the inclination to do this. Performance support, like it’s name says, must be immediate and support-driven.

True performance support immediately provides just-enough task-based guidance when and where it’s needed. Where we start seeing real benefits and a return on investment (remember ROI?) with performance support is when companies make the move from being information-driven to support-driven. We love watching companies make this leap!

A key attribute of support-driven PS is the principle of “just enough.”  When we say “just enough,” we mean that within 2 clicks and/or 10 seconds, a performer can get the basic task information needed to get the job done. And then, should a performer need it, there is more detail available. These cascading levels of detail are driven by the Five Moments of Need.  Does your performance support solution provide 2-click/10-second access to just enough task information needed to guide the user to effective on-the-job performance, with the option of getting more detailed information when needed? Or is the performer sent on a scavenger hunt?

Performance Support gets even better when the application you’re in knows who you are, what role you play, and where you are in the process–and automatically offers you contextual help at just the right moment. Add to that the ability to follow you across applications, adapting as you go to help you perform effectively? Oh, and add to this PS capability the fact that you can author and publish this kind of performance solution outside of the application, with minimal impact on IT!

Reality? Absolutely!

So, how are you supporting your organization? Are you caught in the chaos of an overwhelming amount of information scattered and hidden within SharePoint sites; or, are you providing true performance support where in 2-clicks/10-seconds performers get “just enough” of what they need to get the job done?

This month we’ll continue exploring the performance support spectrum to help you understand where you are and create a vision for performance support at your own organization. Think of it as a roadmap for delivering business impact with performance support!

Written in Methodology Matters

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