How Performance Support Systems Accelerate User Performance

Performance Support
performance support systems

The fact is – user performance is critical for an organization to prosper.

But a recent study suggests that 19.8 percent of business time – the equivalent of one day per working week – is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively. Massively hitting productivity and performance to an all time low.

Regardless of how new or old a user is to a particular software, employees (users) are bound to have queries. From locating the functionalities to understanding the platform altogether and more, assistance is as much sought after.
Our observation is, two significant issues can essentially attribute to the drop in their performance.

-Looking for relevant information: Time is consumed to find the relevant help content, to comprehend it and then to use it effectively.
-Information overload: Information is available in plenty. But you need only the relevant information that aids you in completing the task at hand. With a myriad of information available, you might not be able to process it quickly and get to the conclusion.

This calls for a solution that reduces the time spent on information gathering, removes noise and provides only the information required to complete the task at hand. Well, that is what performance support systems do.

This article aims at elaborating what performance support systems are and how they fit into various organizational domains and save tremendously on time and efforts.

What is Performance Support?

Consider this scenario.

You are en route to Disneyland, in your own car, enjoying the trip to its fullest. Just then, you come across a sign board and realize that you have taken a wrong route. Some years back, this could have been an alarming situation. But now, you whip out your smartphone and resort to GPS for telling you the right way ahead.

The GPS here works exactly the way performance support systems work. They provide the exact information needed to solve a query and right at the moment of need.

Therefore, we can define performance support systems as:

A tool or resource, ranging from print to technology-supported, which provides just the right amount of task guidance, support, and productivity benefits to the user, precisely at the moment of need. – Marc Rosenberg

Performance support systems are generally of two types.

performance support systems
Pen and paper based performance support solutions could be regular post-it notes, mini checklists of flowcharts, process maps, etc. all drawn on the paper.

On the other hand, electronic performance support systems are:

“An integrated electronic environment that is available to and easily accessible by each employee and is structured to provide immediate, individualized on-line access to the full range of information, software, guidance, advice and assistance, data, images, tools, and assessment and monitoring systems to permit job performance with minimal support and intervention by others” – Gloria Gery

But Why do you Need Electronic Performance Support Systems?

Performance support  systems have one principal aim – to improve performance and productivity. Anyone using an EPSS and confronting an immediate job-related problem can get it resolved in the simplest, and the quickest way possible.

As published by Forbes, a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that employee productivity is falling and managers have no clue what to do about it. In such a case, an EPSS could help you tackle the issue head on.

Performance support systems can cater to three broad use cases and have a number of benefits to offer in each case. The use cases are:

Employee Training

An EPSS cannot replace training altogether. However, it is capable of enhancing the training process. When used along with employee training, it brings in a myriad of benefits like:

-Makes learning a continuous process

When a company adopts a new software, it trains its employees on the same. Some time later, employees get to try their hands at it. Because of the time lag between learning and implementation, most of them do not remember how to operate it. Well, according to research, chances are, employees would already have forgotten 70% of the content within 48 hours of their training.

But, things can be simpler with the availability of an EPSS. When stuck in between, employees can quickly recall any process they want to complete on the software. While doing so, they also get to learn things practically and the content forgotten doesn’t affect their performance. This way, learning becomes a continuous process rather than a few days affair.

-Provides an opportunity for on-the-job learning:

performance support systems

The 70:20:10 model for learning and development holds that an individual obtains 70 percent of his knowledge from on-the-job experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.

EPSS helps in providing that 70% of ‘learn by experiencing’ kind of training. Using it, users can experience and learn explicitly what they want to learn about a topic, and whenever they feel the need to learn it.

– Contributes towards Performance Improvement(PI):

Performance Improvement (PI) is a process for enhancing employee and organizational performance. It involves identifying gaps between desired and actual performance and its root causes. The root causes are then fixed and the change in performance is measured in terms of:

-No of units produced per unit of time
-Time taken to complete a job
-Accuracy with which the job is done
-Making the appropriate decision under given circumstances.

When unable to recall things, an employee wastes a significant amount of time finding it out. Firstly he may ask his colleagues – if not satisfied with the answers, he would try to search the help portal. Still, if he doesn’t find his answers, he will raise a support ticket. This deteriorates his performance as the parameters mentioned above would drop marginally.

Along with wasting time, it creates a situation where the employee has too much information or too many tasks to process simultaneously that he is unable to process information and come to a conclusion.

But if the time spent in finding information and arriving at a conclusion is reduced, the performance would definitely spin up.

Enhancing Customer Support

-Helps users self-service their support queries

Independent of how systematically a product is designed, users are bound to have queries.To get them resolved, they would raise a support ticket via one of your customer support channels. But if you let them solve queries on their own without any external help, the number of support tickets raised would decline marginally. Saving you the cost of hiring extra support agents.

performance support and customer service

The above statistics prove that users want to resolve their queries on their own, in this case, an EPSS can be of great help. Such an EPSS would contain all the potential queries and their answers which a user can refer to when needed. An example of this could be knowledge bases and static FAQ’s on websites.

User Onboarding

When a user visits your website/application for the first time, he is totally unfamiliar with its functionalities and features. In such a case, if in-product help can provide a great user onboarding experience.

This help could be in various forms. Like, all the potential queries that a user might face on the website could be compiled into a list. When a user clicks on a query, the steps that can lead to its resolution appears on the screen. It would be an addition if the user can read the instructions and perform the tasks mentioned simultaneously and not one after the other.


Within an organization, productivity and performance are two key factors that cannot be compromised. EPSS would not just power up these key factors but would also contribute in many aspects which you hadn’t thought of earlier. But like everything else, an EPSS also has its own set of pros and cons. But, if the pros outweigh the cons, it should definitely be worth a try.

From this week onwards, we would be releasing a series of articles on Performance Support. This being the first one in the list. The next article would be discussing how effective it is to learn via an EPSS and how does it work. So watch out for it, the very next week.

Shivani Nalkar

Shivani Nalkar

Shivani is a Content and Social Media Marketer at Whatfix. She is a voracious reader and a dilettante chef. She joined Whatfix as a fresher, and is spending her days learning the tips and trick of her new trade.
Shivani Nalkar
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