One of the fundamental decisions to be made when implementing Electronic Performance Support (EPSS) revolves around content. Should your organization publish content specifically purposed for EPSS? Or, can and should you use what already exists?
Most organizations have existing content created to support employees in their roles. This may be in the form of vendor documentation, help files, system simulations, quick reference cards, eLearning and more. The content naturally is saved in a myriad of formats, from MSWord docs to Adobe Flash files and everything in between. It is usually stored in an equal or greater number of storage devices and locations from SharePoint servers to Content Management Systems, Learning Management Systems, Social Media sites, Shared Drives and yes even user’s local workstations!
So, should you publish new content specifically for EPSS or leverage what you have? The answer is YES!
Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher of Applysynergies (www.applysynergies.com) espouse a “two clicks and ten seconds” principle for learners to access EPSS content. I wouldn’t argue that, especially since it is based on solid research. The question is "two clicks and ten seconds" to access what?
Well, they further put forward that the content should be contextual, and just-enough. So how does this inform your decision? I finally got my mind around it through a basic understanding of DITA (Darwin Information Technology Architecture) model. Wikipedia is a good place to start. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_Information_Typing_Architecture )
This stuff can get pretty heady and complex but I found for EPSS beginners the basic construct of: Task, Concept, and Reference goes a long way in helping to solve the content publishing dilemma.
If you really get into it check out http://dita.xml.org/ or Chris Benz 2010 article in learning solutions, http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/524/what-is-dita-and-why-should-you-care .
Simply put, you will want to seriously consider reworking and republishing content at the task and concept levels. You can focus on the high impact content that employees will most frequently search for to perform their jobs. In "two clicks and ten seconds" they will want you to point them to the steps and give them the option for a quick explanation. Your content may not be readily available in that format but it won’t be too time consuming or expensive to create it for the most important tasks.
So what about all that other great content? Well, that is where Bob Mosher’s concept of Content Brokering comes in, as does the DITA Reference topic type. We can make employees aware of all the other great content, like system simulations, documentation, videos and the like through the EPSS interface. Ideally this is done without the need to exit the workflow (meaning, it is embedded).
Voila! Publish or new content or use existing content? The answer is YES!
Which vendor has the best solution? The answer to that question is simple. It depends..
Watch the blog space for an exploration of different technology approaches and their pros and cons. Suffice it to say at MindMuze while we do represent vendor solutions we act more like and insurance broker than a company agent, providing the best advice to our clients based on their situation.