Performance support is a rapidly growing discipline of enabling human performance on the job. It helps people to do their jobs and to develop competence through the normal course of doing work, rather than through off-job training or extensive reading. Ultimately, it supports the performance of a business, through enabling the performance of individual workers. It has demonstrated dramatically improved performance by many types of workers and their businesses.
This book summarizes many ways of incorporating techniques of performance support in the workplace, systems, and processes of organizations. Some of the ways are simple, some more complex. The author's hope is that you might adopt even one or two of these methods, and that doing so will save money for you and your organization, and that doing so will enable you to make a profound impact on the business of your organization and that of your customers.
Nearly all companies have the difficulty that it takes too long and costs too much to develop competence in their employees. Modern computer systems change so frequently, and applications and work environments are so poorly designed, that there is constant retraining going on. Work processes change to keep up with competitive pressures. Classroom training nearly always misses the mark by being late or ineffective in transferring skills back to the job. The fact that people need to be trained to use products in the first place is the essence of the problem. This book addresses that problem by means of various methods of performance support. Further, it presents a structure for developing "performance support solutions," which allow a phased introduction of performance-enabling features in products over time, to accommodate customers' varying budget and infrastructure levels.
The value proposition for performance support is that for relatively modest investment, a high return can be realized for the cost of product ownership and support. This investment can be as little as zero (by incorporating performance-centered design methods into a product development process) and as much as ten person-years or more (for a high-end integrated performance support and knowledge management system). A Performance Support Solution strategy can allocate the investment to a rollout of PS features over time.
Bill Bezanson practices what he preaches with Performance Support Solutions. This book is a comprehensive, pragmatic, and precise treatment of the field of Performance Support. It covers all aspects of the field and, in keeping with Bill's advocacy for "obvious products," the book is itself an obvious product. Every Performance Technologist, whether a novice or an expert, will benefit from keeping this book in close proximity. Especially relevant is his compilation of "N ways to implement performance support solutions," which facilitates incremental design of solutions, thus appealing to diverse development budgets or customer infrastructure readiness. In developing such an all-encompassing piece of work, Bill clearly demonstrates his assertion that "Performance Support work is more than a job: it is a calling," and those of us in the field should be happy that he feels that way! He has made our jobs a lot easier by providing us with an up-to-date, insightful review of the leading-edge thinking in our field.
Dr. Tony O'Driscoll
Author of Achieving Desired Business Performance, and Researcher with IBM's Institute for Advanced Learning, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Bezanson's authoritative, yet very readable work gives every organisation a motive for introducing, implementing, or improving their performance support solutions. It is well researched, full of great yet simple and implementable ideas, examples, and models, and while it satisfies the stringent academic criteria making it a useful reference and teaching aid, its real value lies in its grounding in the realities of the modern busy and complex workplace. It is obvious that the author speaks from many years of experience thinking about and grappling with user and organisational performance support issues.
Dr. Gitte Lindgaard
Professor and Chair, User-Centered Design
Department of Psychology
Bill Bezanson's Performance Support Solutions is a comprehensive and practical guide for making products obvious, minimizing the need for costly training and product support. In today's increasingly complex and time-pressured world, this is a much-welcomed effort. Anyone interested in making systems easier to use needs to read this book!
Mark W. Morgan, EdD
President, Momentum Performance Group
Co-author, Performance Scorecards: Measuring the Right Things In the Real World.