Positioning EPS: Consider A Novel Non-technology Approach

It is amazing to me that positioning Embedded Performance Support [EPS] is such an arduous task. I get the sense that the knee-jerk reaction to a new discipline that may well imply new technology turns the conversation into a “new technology” conversation from the get-go. What I’m learning as I get deeper into the variations on what an EPS discipline may actually look like, I realized that the technology part of the equation may be well down the path of adoption…and, in fact, may never manifest at all…ever.

I think the less threatening approach involves WHAT is positioned…and leave the technology out of it…at least in the beginning.

When you examine a prime environment where EPS is a perfect fit, enterprise systems and business applications represent a sweet spot. Going deeper into that environment, look at the work effort required to deploy and implement one of these systems to a state of optimized adoption. Regardless of the system being brought into the enterprise, there is one key area where EPS can gain a toe-hold while causing no disruption. In addition, the primary business impact is dramatic cost reductions on something that MUST happen whether EPS is part of the future or not – WORKFLOW DOCUMENTATION.

Depending on the EPS vendor you are working with, the AUTHORING suite capability of their software, if their suite is modular, can reduce the cost of creating workflow documentation by well over half. The bonus comes in when you look at automating a highly manual process and creating single-source content that can then be distributed in multiple formats – one of which would include training for develop simulation objects…and why not toss in the Help Desk with objects that they can push to any kind of end-user device. So…how many issues di single-source content just solve?

I can relive so many memories of on waiting the IT Team to complete an agile sprint cycle to confirm that screens are solid enough so we can fire up Captivate and start grabbing screen shots and building our simulations. Don’t know about your experiences, but we [Training] always seemed to have a greater sense of urgency to get those screens nailed down. Never mind that what we sought after would most likely come over the wall at us with little to no warning anyway. Not bitter, just scarred. Feel me?

If all you ever did was automate workflow documentation…something that already has to happen…you could look at that as a first phase EPS implementation. And say, ”Look Ma, no technology! And by the way, I just whacked documentation costs by over 60%!

What comes out of that content automation approach are content assets that satisfies the resource heavy and manual workflow documentation that always has to be done in a system implementation. Plus, the content can be published as a simulation…published to a mobile device…published to the LMS…stashed on SharePoint…and ultimately, published to a contextual EPSS application that makes contextual help from right within the application workflow of SAP or Oracle or Lawson or Epic or Cerner or SalesForce or [insert the business app of your choice here].

If all that is ever needed is rapid, single-source content development, a minor investment in the authoring tool option of the right EPS vendor will pay itself back in a matter of months.

Consider yourself on your way, and as adoption grows it will become apparent that more single-source content is being created than SharePoint can manage. Rapidly, a more effective way to handle it and…even more importantly…make it accessible without leaving the business application in the context of a workflow will be required. Will that happen?

I’ll give you the standard consultant’s answer, “It depends!” And it does. Depends on what you’re after. If crushing documentation costs that always and already exist and are often a resource heavy, manual effort. I’m convinced EPS authoring is a no-brainier.

Whether you proceed to contextual-based technology parts of the EPS integration becomes a secondary decision. But if/when you get to that point, all the workflow documentation authored previously already exists in a format that is seamlessly deployable from your signal-source stash.

Here’s another thought. Your EPS authoring platform becomes an “agile” content development tool. Nothing could be more agile than automating a manual process of workflow documentation and then having a single-source stash to push out to multiple formats.

It’s funny how a solution lay right in front of me that would be easy to address and at minimal cost, but I’m focused on the shiny new technology piece farther down the road. Busted! Maybe I should just confess as the guilty party on that count, but I’ve been blinded by obvious before and expect I’ll get over it. I learn something new every day, and this day is no exception.

Something tells me this approach is going to be added to the top of my bag of EPS positioning tactics. Confronting skeptics head-on with a new Learning & Performance paradigm is hard enough; compound it with the threat of new technology on the front end and you may as well trying pushing a rope. I do believe I’m going to hang onto that rope…but for another purpose…to pull them along by first cutting workflow documentation costs by over half and creating a sweet single-source stash of ready-to-use content assets.


Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning