One of the great challenges for organisations in the 21st century: increase performance and productivity. So far, efforts to improve performance have focused on training and its various supports, but objectives are rarely achieved: once in their positions, trained employees find it difficult to put into practice what they have learnt.
Today, the need for Performance Support is stronger than ever: new work practices, technological advances and economic constraints make this a key subject.
What is Performance Support?
Performance Support is a tool which provides the right job information (guide, support, process, etc.) at the right time. It makes work easier and increases workers productivity when they need help.
To better understand Performance Support, it is worth differentiating it from Training, and Knowledge Management:
|Training||Knowledge Management||Performance Support|
|Aim||To train||To inform||To achieve|
|Key point of the training||The training is structured||The training is not structured : self-managed||The training is done as and when needed|
|Benefits||Increase in skills and knowledge||Find out and share information||Successfully carry out/ put into practice work tasks|
The right information, at the right time
There are five principal moments of need:
- – When you learn something for the first time
- – When you try to learn more about something
- – When you want to implement or remember something, or to adapt your work to a particular situation
- – When you try to solve a problem or handle an error
- – When something has changed which calls for a modification of work practices (new procedures, new work regulations, etc.).
The first two instances are based on the acquisition of knowledge and skills, and are linked to training. The next three instances are more focused on Performance Support. All these instances have an impact on the organisation’s performance strategy.
Performance Support features
There are two main types of Performance Support: work help and EPSS Electronic Performance Support Systems. Work help is based around paper support such as manuals, cards etc…. EPSS Electronic Performance Support Systems are usually tools focused on, and dependent on, other technologies (one or more software programmes or the whole of the business’s IT system).
Seven features of a good Performance Support tool:
- – A good Performance Support tool makes work easier.
- – A good Performance Support tool makes users – and organisations – more productive. Users and organisations must have tangible evidence of the benefits in terms of efficiency, productivity, cost-cutting, time saving, etc.
- – A good Performance Support tool is integrated directly into the workflow.
- – A good Performance Support tool is profitable.
- – A good Performance Support tool is easy to master. Even if the tool is meant to be intuitive, it might require training, but that must be fast and cheap.
- – A good Performance Support tool is a solution that can be easily deployed to the largest possible number of users.
- – A good Performance Support tool is easy to update. It is crucial that the tool can be updated, modified, improved and redeployed swiftly and efficiently.
Training employees is essential, but it is rare that trained personnel are 100% competent. If one doesn’t have a tool to cope with the training follow-up, there is a risk that the acquired skills will decline or even disappear with time, and therefore there will be a need to retrain (very expensive).
The advantages of the approach:
- – Lower training costs with less retraining
- – Higher performance and productivity than through the sole use of training
- – Shorter training courses because Performance Support takes over in the workplace
- – A reduction in skills loss.
The success in the setting up of Performance Support lies in the choice of the right project, and in the analysis of the problem. If the user has to use his experience to cope with a single problem, and there are not really any procedures to follow, then Performance Support is not the solution. Numerous situations offer the possibility to set up Performance Support:
- – When a task is clear and repetitive: Performance Support increases the speed at which the task is fulfilled and reduces its drudgery
- – When a task is complex: Performance Support removes an element of this complexity and allows the user to concentrate on the essentials of his job
- – When a task requires a procedure to be followed to the letter: Performance Support converts this conceptual information into useful information
- – When procedures, processes and other work practices have changed: Performance Support guides users on the move to new work regulations
- – When you need to issue accurate standardized files: Performance Support allows you to avoid discrepancies which can cause problems later on
- – When you need statistical data on the use of user work tools: Performance Support allows you to follow user activity and produce reports.
Performance Support’s future
Performance Support offers many prospects. The market is promising, needs are numerous and technological advances open up new opportunities: hand-held devices, software programmes, social networks, the cloud, API’s, and other advanced technologies (crowdsourcing, big data, etc.). Performance Support tools are also going to become more and more intelligent:
– automatically display information relevant to the user’s screen, with a simple link to that information
– automatically give the right information at the right time, without the user having to request it
– remember the user’s history so as to intelligently display the information.
The right job information, at the right time. What are you waiting for?
Shortways, the right information, at the right time. More information at shortways.com.
Reference: White Paper The elearning Guild : At The Moment of Need – The Case for Performance Support