DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: Unified Systems Vs. Unified Performance

Why not both? What happens when a finely-tuned enterprise system is launched and slips into the hands of a workforce who are not as finely-tuned? This scenario is repeated over and over right after a system GoLive takes place. Coincident with GoLive, someone with a bull horn turns to the Help Desk and screams “INCOMING!” And we’re off… Why does time-to-competency have to be so long…and so expensive? Why aren’t unified systems technologies integrated with unified workforce performance technology? Sorry…the LMS is a non-starter in this game that takes place at Point-of-Work.

The IT team does an outstanding job investing hours and hours fine-tuning and testing system performance with extensive test scripts and system validation to unify system functionality. L&D breaks out the firehose and does an admirable job training to fill heads and hearts with more information on system usage than humanly possible to remember long enough to accomplish what? Login…and the number for the Help Desk?

At what cost? Yeah…INCOMING!

We’ve all been there and yet we insist on hammering a paradigm of learning prior to GoLive with expectations that countless Captivate simulations are going to “stick” and end-users are going to effectively navigate through countless transactions. I wonder what would happen if we spent as much attention on enabling workforce performance at the Point-of-Work as IT spends fine-tuning the systems prior to launch? Do we not have all oars in the water here or what?

Unified performance

We’ve proven that the human mind cannot retain transferred knowledge for very long. This is not an indictment on L&D methods and content quality; rather, it’s an indictment on the paradigm in which we seem to be held hostage – Training Drives Performance. No…it doesn’t…Training Drives Potential. Performance doesn’t happen until the Help Desk is called and an end-user’s moment of need is satisfied. This simply is not a sustainable paradigm.

When you consider the increasing demands and frequent GoLive scenarios repeated during the rush to Digital Transformation, I cannot understand how enabling workforce capability does not rank as highly as the priority of time and funds invested to transition technology to the cloud.

Quick real-life story…names changed to protect the guilty…

During one of my Workforce Performance Strategist roles, I received an invitation to sit down with our IT team to review and advise them regarding their training plans for a huge system launch. And I did. The training function within IT had done a very good job building a robust blend of ILT and self-paced eLearning with a heaping side of simulations for virtually every transaction the new system offered.

With feigned innocence I asked, “Where’s the performance support?”

“Oh, we’ll handle that separately after the training!” Came the confident reply from the IT Training Lead.

All eyes looked at me, and I stated flatly, “Guys, that’s a really big mistake. You know you’re going to blow out the Help Desk with calls right after GoLive!”

“Yes, we know they will be busy but have taken steps to cover the increased volume of calls.” The IT Lead replied giving me a look of annoyance staining his smug confidence.

They never invited me back.

But they did take steps to cover the anticipated call volume. Big steps. A large conference room suite was converted into a War Room. Removing the partitioning wall, they set up 100 positions with phones, laptops and wireless connectivity for the impending chaos. The tiny little hot-spot in the hallway outside the conference room for serving up wireless signal was joined by several newly installed hot-spots. Plans were made to cater food for the army of Help Desk staff and SMEs for the duration of the flood.

At what cost? “Holy unnecessary expense, Batman!”

No clue, but whatever the cost, it was directly linked to an old-school paradigm that treated performance support as a post-training event. Thousands of end-users familiar with multiple legacy systems were going to be subjected to a single consolidated system. That meant every workflow was going to change. Training alone was not going to be enough to ensure survival on retained knowledge no matter how well done.

Unified Performance Deserves to Become a Priority

From this example, I see so many parallels with our current rush toward Digital Transformation. In many of those transformations, new systems and workflows will result. Often, multiple system transitions will follow over time as GoLive after GoLive come and go. Again, I ask – “At what cost?

Unifying system infrastructure is not the point of failure however; nor is it the cause. Failure should be identified not only by “What happens?” but also by “Where it happens?” …and “where” clearly is…

  • In the workflow…
  • Inside the application(s) being used…
  • At unique, end-user moments of need…
  • And at the Point-of-Work

The true cause of failure comes from our NOT addressing these variables, all of which fall outside the scope of anything Training could deliver no matter how sexy the LMS…or how many simulations have been endured and forgotten…or how many level 2 evaluations promise competent performance. Not wrong-headed…just not enough…and not in the right place…and not designed to address moment of need…and…and…

What further complicates the Digital Transformation journey is the fact that multiple disparate systems will likely be part of the transition effort. Some legacy systems will become unified as they transition or are consolidated through replacement, but the process happens over time and will be iterative in nature.

Is the pace of iteration something L&D can keep pace following the existing paradigm? Even if they can, performance will not be unified across the workforce until all users reach the nirvana of full adoption, which BTW happens at Point-of-Work not during training.

How long will it take? How many errors made? At what cost?

If systems architecture is moving to the cloud…and it is happening in an ever-increasing pace…shouldn’t we move workforce enablement technology along with it? Before answering that, consider this…if moving to the cloud does not accelerate productivity at Point-of-Work, we’re still two oars shy of a rowing team.

The Solution – Digital Productivity Acceleration

Digital Performance Support – DPS (or EPS if premises-based) is the common system denominator to consider as a unifier of workforce performance. Why?

  • DPS is system agnostic…which means scalability is already built-in
  • DPS offers collaborative authoring… which means rapid content development across SMEs and/or non-training contributors
  • DPS offers robust content management…which means rapid single-source content updates in live content applied at Point-of-Work
  • DPS offers contextual learning &support assets at moment of need inside system workflows at Point-of-Work
  • DPS provides performance asset analytics critical to fine-tuning content in live systems and supplying actionable performance data

Why DPS? Beyond the technical benefits listed above we cannot overlook the brass ring that seems so difficult to grab in a timely manner. “Timely?” We always seem to get to adoption sooner or later. But then the cost to get there can be high and often never factored into ROI when justifying the new systems we launch. Reaching full adoption is all about time; the shorter, the better. Productivity is not optimized until we get there. Why would we ignore a technology that shortens the time-to-competency…shortens
time-to- impact…by accelerating productivity at Point-of-Work?

Launching a new system whether cloud-based or not…or a new workflow…or a new process…or a new product/service…or a new compliance regulation…or…or…or – Accelerating Workforce Productivity at Point-of-Work should be the end game and drawing upon this outcome from the cloud…where we’re already headed with the rest of our technology makes perfect sense…if we can put all oars into the water and pull in the same direction of a new paradigm.

Thanks for reading, and as always, I welcome thoughts, comments and other ideas if any of this trips your trigger.

Also, a new LinkedIn networking group – POINT-of-WORK: Performance Support Solutions has been launched and I welcome you to join. It’s a freebie and focused on performance support and the tools to build solutions to get there. Share ideas, thoughts, questions or just cruise and lurk. Check us out if interested.


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