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Why Interactive EPSS Is the Best Support for Advanced Users

Six reasons why you should implement an interactive electronic performance support system to guide even your most advanced software users.

Let’s begin this blog post with a simple little anecdote:

Anna is a marketing manager who uses Pardot on a daily basis. From time to time, she updates her CV to include any news skills or software applications she’s learned. And after having worked with Pardot for quite some time now, she writes in her CV that when it comes to using Pardot, she’s an expert. 

But …

One day, Anna starts to question her expertise. Is she really an expert in Pardot? She soon comes to realize that she doesn’t know how to use all the features available to her in Pardot, and because of this, she isn’t leveraging the full capabilities of the software. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Anna is an expert in Pardot, but, in such a rapidly changing technological world, experts can ‘lose’ that status very quickly when the software undergoes major updates or releases new features and functionalities. So, how do experts remain, well, experts in this rapidly changing day and age?

As you well know, the SaaS industry is a hyper-competitive and highly saturated market, which means SaaS businesses constantly have to innovate and push out new updates and features as often as possible.

So, while an expert might know everything there is to know about a particular software application today, it’s pretty likely that soon there’ll be features and functions they’ve never seen before, and they’ll have to learn how these new features work in order to maintain that expert status!

And this brings us to the very point of this article …

Changing the Way We Learn to Navigate Software: The Interactive EPSS

Let’s say you’re the manager of a team of experts. These experts know how to use a number of software applications. They know the ins and outs of the applications, they know how to get the most value out of them, and they even help other employees who need help. 

But one day, these software applications undergo huge updates and suddenly, there are brand new features – and quite a few of them – these experts have never worked with before. And now your team of experts is stuck, but they don’t want to turn to you, their manager, for help. They’re the experts and admitting they don’t know something about the very software applications they’re an expert in is a difficult thing for them to do. 

As their manager, it’s your responsibility to support your team and ensure that they’re being as productive as possible and seeing results. Now you know that the experts you manage don’t want to admit that they’re stuck. They don’t want any external help, especially from you, their manager, and would prefer to figure things out on their own. 

So, what can you do to rectify this problem in a way that benefits both you and your team?

The answer comes in the form of an interactive Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS). 

The Numerous Benefits of an EPSS

The most frequently cited definition of EPSS in literature is one from Gloria Gery, which defines an EPSS as “the use of technology to provide on-demand access to integrated information, guidance, advice, assistance, training, and tools to enable high-level job performance with a minimum of support from other people.” 

To break it down a little further, Electronic Performance Support Systems are specifically designed to deliver relevant support and just-in-time information (i.e. relevant and contextual information at the exact moment the user needs it) to users while they are actually performing tasks (in this case, in any given software application). In other words, the ultimate goal of any EPSS is to provide “whatever is necessary to generate performance and learning at the point of need”. 

When it comes to software, EPSSs (interactive EPSSs in particular) are also designed to maximize software adoption, meaning that software users can learn to navigate any software application on their own with very little external support. 

The benefits of an EPSS are plentiful. For example, an EPSS: 

  • is cost-effective as it replaces outdated training methods (such as on-site training, training manuals, pdfs, etc.)
  • is intuitive and learner-centric, giving users the autonomy and independence to learn a software application at their own pace, anytime and anywhere.
  • improves the ROI of software implementation as employees learn to use a new software application in a very short space of time. This, naturally, boosts productivity. 
  • supports simple or complex task performance and can provide customized views to individual users
  • caters to different learning styles as it can incorporate multiple media formats, such as text, audio, images, GIFs, etc.

What’s important to note is that EPSSs are not about building comprehensive knowledge. They are specifically designed to provide users with the correct information in their moment of need, which saves them time and allows them to complete their tasks as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

But … Why does an expert need an interactive EPSS?

Interactive EPSS for Higher Competency

Besides these benefits, which are great for the company, why is an interactive EPSS (in particular) beneficial to you, as the manager, and your team of experts? 

If we look at the image below representing learning to competency from LearningSolutions, we can see that once an individual has completed training in new software or has begun to master what they need to, there is simply very little knowledge retention, which isn’t sustainable in the long run. 

graph depicting learning to competency

So, if there is a new feature that is complex to navigate and adopt in the application(s) your team members are experts in, they can, of course, always resort to guides or manuals, pdf documents, or video tutorials on YouTube, for example.

But the problem with relying on these kinds of materials is that they don’t provide contextual or just-in-time information. Your team will have to wade through pages and pages of information, skip certain parts of the video tutorial, or try and find relevant resources hidden in an LMS or learning respository in order to find exactly what it is they’re looking for in order to perform the task at hand. 

This becomes a form of asynchronous learning where your team will have to consult external documentation and then apply what they’ve learned to the new feature update. This can be tedious as they’ll more than likely have to go back and forth between documentation and the actual application to figure out the steps. 

And this process will have to repeat itself every time there is a new feature release. It’s not sustainable. And as the image above indicates, people tend to forget what they’ve learned as soon as the learning process is complete, and given that your team works with numerous applications on a daily basis, learning to navigate new features asynchronously takes time and affects productivity significantly. 

Today’s technology must provide two-click and/or 10-second access to just enough information, guidance, advice, assistance, training, and tools that will immediately get the job done. – Conrad Gottfredson

And this is why EPSSs (in general) were created. With an EPSS, any user can find information immediately and will know exactly how to perform the task at hand with no external support. 

And even better for your team is that an interactive EPSS (discussed in more detail below) can provide minimal information for expert users and more details for those just starting out in a specific application. This form of segmentation (separating user groups) means that your team won’t need to refer to all the information given to new users – they’ll simply have access to information relevant to what they need.

Continuous Learning with Interactive EPSS

It goes without saying that learning needs to be continuous. You constantly need to learn new skills as well as hone existing ones. 

As for your team members with their expertise in a specific software application, some of them are probably, in part, responsible for helping new employees learn some of the features of the software applications. Naturally, they’ll want to help them, but if they’re working in a large company and have to help scores of employees, their own productivity (as well as your overall team’s productivity) will decrease and you, as the manager, won’t see the results you and your team are aiming for. 

An EPSS (once again, an interactive EPSS in particular) can eliminate the need for onboarding, training, and retraining, so if either you or your team have been responsible for any of these tasks, you’ll no longer need to be because an interactive EPSS is always there to provide on-demand support.

Interactive EPSS for Enterprises

There are different types of EPSSs, but for this post, we focus on the interactive EPSS. Userlane is an example of an interactive EPSS that uses interactive guides to give users that just-in-time, contextual information they’re looking for to complete their tasks. The interactive guides are designed to guide users step-by-step and in real-time (i.e. live within the software application) through all digital processes they’re required to interact with.

At the core of it, an interactive EPSS can make anyone an expert in any software application. An interactive EPSS enables high-level performance that is self-reliant. And this is good news for the experts because they’ll no longer have to spend valuable time helping new employees, therefore giving them more time to use their valuable and expert skills where they’re needed most.

As SaaS companies continue to innovate and update their applications, it’s important for you, your team, and your company to keep up to ensure that you are deriving maximum value from the software you are using. 

An interactive EPSS, like Userlane, will give your team constant on-screen performance support, ensuring that they won’t ever get stuck or need to consult external documentation (or you!) for help. They can continue working independently and learn any new features at their own pace on their own terms and at any time. So interactive EPSSs are the ideal solution for experts who don’t want to turn to anybody for help!


Preparing for the Workplace of the Future With an Interactive EPSS

Interactive Electronic Performance Support Systems are designed to maximize software adoption, ensuring that your team – and any other employee – can master new technology successfully. All-in-all, an interactive EPSS will deliver the best outcome for you, your team, and the company as a whole. 

So, in summary, how will implementing an interactive EPSS benefit you and your team of experts? Here are six reasons why:

  1. An interactive EPSS will ensure that the experts will be able to maintain that expert status whenever the software application(s) they’re working in undergo updates or have new feature rollouts.
  2. Your team will be able to achieve 100% feature adoption in no time. This, naturally, boosts your team’s performance and productivity.
  3. The experts won’t have to ask anyone else for help and they can continue to use the software application autonomously.
  4. Both your knowledge and your team’s knowledge will never be outdated.
  5. The experts will no longer have to be part of onboarding or training or spend time helping other employees. 
  6. Continuous learning via an EPSS ensures that everyone using a software application consistently sharpens their skills

You can think of an interactive EPSS as your own digital sidekick. For you and your company to be successful, you’ll have to adopt the right technology that drives continuous learning. And an interactive EPSS such as Userlane will help you and your company innovate and boost digital adoption so that you can start preparing today for the workplace of the future

Find out how Deutsche Bahn achieved a five-fold increase in software adoption with interactive guidance.

Written by Tracey Ruff

Tracey is a Marketing and Content Specialist at Userlane. She is passionate about writing and social media (Instagram in particular) and is keen to start her own vlog. She has a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and has plans to pursue her PhD in the near future. Currently writing about Learning and Development and User Onboarding, Tracey is excited about how the tech industry - especially relating to SaaS products - is evolving. She also loves living and working in Germany (and may or may not be slightly obsessed with Taylor Swift and cats).

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