How I’m Using Performance Support In The Flow Of Work At Work

A person holding up a compass towards the sun to help guide them.

Prior to last year, my world was project-based. That means I was given the task of supporting teammates in their journey to learn a specific topic. That’s typically a new project that IT was launching and people needed training to use it right.

I know, you could say that if it was easy enough to use you wouldn’t need training. That’s kind of the way I used to think and I even had project managers and such think that way. The unfortunate thing about that is that it’s impossible.

But you could make it like Google, right? Just one simple box where people type. Or maybe a better example now is ChatGPT because it’s the one simple box people are going to type.

Unfortunately, even seemingly simple tools like Google and ChatGPT aren’t as simple as they appear. Yes on the surface they are easy to use to do the basics. But, to truly and effectively use them to their fullest capacity, there’s a lot more to learn. That’s why training is and will always be important.

The world is more complex than we’d like to think and it’s not going to get any easier.

That’s where I was prior to last year. Then I was approached early last year asking if I’d be interested in learning about this tool called Pendo. Of course I said yes.

From Idea To Reality, A Long Time In The Making

I already knew what Pendo was because I had heard about it at work. And then there’s the fact that 8 or so years ago I was the one that actually kicked off the long journey to bringing Pendo to some future software that didn’t exist yet. I was in a Yammer room that soon got banned and was talking with someone else in the company about performance support.

She brought up this cool program they were looking into (I can’t remember the name) and I thought it sounded really interesting. I decided to bring the idea to my department heads in order to help train teammates in the application they used every day right in the application instead of making them go elsewhere and print job aids and such.

That idea was to implement learning in the flow of work using in-app support. That idea I had 8 or so years ago (my estimate is about 2014, maybe 2015) eventually turned into Pendo for the main application that runs the company. It’s actually a replacement for the application I proposed the in-app solution for.

Job aids and other forms of performance support are nice, but they simply aren’t there when you need it. Or at least they’re not likely there when you need it, you have to go dig it up or know about it in order to use it. Most of us work in software today, though. So, with in-app support, it’s easy to surface performance support in the flow of work.

Though sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds. it’s easy to overwhelm with prompts, icons, popups, and more. It’s also just as easy for help to get buried in the software and help center as it is for a job aid to get buried in a knowledge base or a folder somewhere.

Finally Working With The Tool I Envisioned Years Earlier

So, just over one year ago, I began my journey with Pendo and developing training in the flow of work. It began as not so much training as much as information about launches, alerts, and more to help promote features in the application.

But, in the past six months, it has been more about the strategy and building real training solutions into the application. There are several ways that I’m working with a group to make that happen.

  • A help center that surfaces important information (including helpdesk chat) as well as a searchable index of help.
  • Guided walkthroughs that tell teammates where to click and what information to enter.
  • Information that helps them make decisions or decipher information right in the app (sort of like an in-app quick reference guide!)
  • Guides that have videos embedded that walk through more complex processes.

One of the projects I just worked on spanned multiple departments in order to streamline the help center and make sure it helps teammates in the ideal way. It was challenging, interesting, but extremely rewarding in the end.

I’ve now been semi-promoted to lead the group in developing Pendo guides for the application. That means I get to have a part in guiding the direction of the application, documenting some of the processes, and making sure things are consistent across all the help and guides we develop for the application.

I was fortunate enough to come into the project with a lot of progress already made. But, there’s always a lot of progress to continue to make in the name of continuous improvement. On a different application in the organization, we’re also rolling out WalkMe but I don’t have a part in that.

Are you using in-app help? If so, how are you using it?