Article : Performance Support Technology Gains Early Glory
Performance Support approaches knowledge management in an entirely different way from anything we've seen before. It could be associated with e-learning as it is driven by technology, informs large numbers of employees, simplifies the mass learning process and can reduce budgets, but there the similarities end.
Performance Support does just what it says on the tin. It provides support to all employees to help them perform better, just at their moment of need. It's new to the UK and is getting a lot of interest.
So Why The Interest?
Employees, these days, have to know more than ever to be competent in their jobs because business processes, systems and products details change so quickly. The information employees need to do their jobs changes so rapidly that training can actually become counterproductive if the material goes out of date quickly. And the need for higher productivity leaves less time for training.
It won't surprise you to know that recent data shows the average knowledge worker spends 15% of their time looking for information – and only 50% of that time do they find it.
So historical – and even current - remedies to this issue are when support costs, both hidden and measurable, soar.
Peformance Support , then, provides employees with fast access to nuggets of information they need to do their jobs - when they need it.
Information is delivered to users' desktops, quickly and in context with their current job, enabling employees to access all need-to-know information. The process leads employees to positively choose to learn when information is delivered at their individual 'moment of need', whether they need product or job process information. It means, for instance, that customers phoning a contact centre believe employees can answer any query instantly, while new employees using a complex IT system can find out how to complete any job process successfully.
With this technology, training can start closer to the 'go live' date because it's a shorter process. It also provides more context and less detail. Employees learn with each new task they perform, providing increased adoption of processes and systems.
Performance Support - A Cure-All For Training
Performance Support technology is used to get a quick answer to a question or follow the steps to perform a task. It works for operational content such as processes, procedures, business rules and product information.
For the organisation as a whole, it reduces the amount of formal training needed, it improves quality and consistency of employee effectiveness, reduces costs and stems the risk of major system or change roll-outs.
Instructor-led training, on the other hand, is another piece of the training puzzle. It's a good option when it comes to facilitating employee buy-in to change or when you need interactivity to allow employees to ask questions. Employees, too, can practice skills and fail without consequences. However, employees naturally forget a lot of what they learn in training or can fade if they don't put it into practice quickly. It also involves considerable time commitment to attend, it is expensive to develop and needs management to deliver logistically.
E-learning is another valid part of the training puzzle. It can be good for induction processes, it's useful when instructor-led training is not available and is particularly suitable for those who prefer independent, self-paced learning, but not those who need structure and interaction.
The main issue, however, is that both of these pieces of the puzzle require a focused block of time to complete and employees don't have time – or can't access it - at exactly the time they need it.
Capture Knowledge And Pass It On
The right technology can help capture knowledge across the organisation so it can be shared with others in a timely, efficient way. Performance Support technology allows people with good knowledge and experience to share it effectively – as long as approved, secure authors agree the practice is indeed in line with corporate practices.
It also completes another part of the puzzle with
an increasingly prominent issue when it comes to knowledge sharing.
People learn differently today. Because of the Internet, we like to have information at the tip of our fingers. With this in mind, organisations can generally split employees into two age groups: Generation X employees who may hold senior management positions and much of the tacit organisational knowledge, and the younger, Generation Y employees who have approached learning in a technologically advanced environment.
This technology enables Generation X employees to pass their knowledge on to each other plus the Generation Y employees so that companies keep a hold of good practice methods, and develop them more and more as time moves on. Importantly, it enables organisations to discover effective methods used by senior personnel before they retire.
So Is Performance Support Really Sophisticated
You could look at it that way, but while online help tends to get a person to use software, is generic and is often slow and difficult to get the answer, Performance Support helps an employee to do their job effectively. Information provided is customised for their job role within their company. The information is context sensitive and presents information at the point of need and is provided quickly and simply. They don't need to search for it.
There's no doubt that UK industry has a pressing need to encompass a new way of gathering information which offers a significant difference to employees and the organisation. Providing nuggets of information through a Performance Support system does this and will bring about improved employee productivity, a decrease in total training and support costs and ultimately ensure tasks are performed correctly and consistently. This in turn impacts on job satisfaction therefore reducing staff turnover and creates a more stable workforce.
About Colin Terry:
Colin Terry is the MD of New Wave Learning, which specialises in providing informal learning solutions for Call and Contact Centres to deliver employees ‘moment-of-need’ knowledge & information. Colin has been involved in training for 11 years after discovering his forte while MD of an associated company to Sony UK.
About New Wave Learning:
New Wave Learning specialises in the provision of informal learning solutions. Its product portfolio combined with consultancy and professional services enable organisations to develop and deliver solutions that provide ‘moment-of-need’ knowledge & information.
About Ted Gannan:
Ted co-founded Panviva after almost 20 years in a wide range of senior management, sales and editorial roles in the publishing industry. He identified the need for a better way of delivering employee performance support, which led to the design and development of SupportPoint. Since then he has led the company’s growth and overseen SupportPoint implementations for major customers around the world.
Founded in 1996, Panviva develops employee performance support solutions for companies. SupportPoint, an employee performance support system, gives employees a single place to find all the information they need about how to perform their job. Panviva facilitates fast access to operational knowledge, allowing its users to significantly reduce training and support costs.
Published: Thursday, February 02, 2006
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