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EPSS as Part of the Organizational Knowledge Management Infrastructure

1 May 2011
A person using a computer

EPSS (Electronic Performance Support Systems) are tools designed to support system performance. Despite their tremendous potential (for learning, support, and assistance), people mainly use them for help - to receive online aid to operating system screens and processes. And not without reason. An item designed for learning will be planned in multiple layers, including in-depth explanations, considerations, and criteria to consider, as well as references and external links. An item designed for support will be shorter but still include aspects of discretion and criteria. All this is to assist the knowledge worker in making the best decision with all its components. A good help item is short. Its purpose is to provide an immediate response. It will include bottom lines, no criteria, and no discretion. Indeed, there are no sources.

Hence, an organization implementing an EPSS system must choose the path—whether to lengthen or shorten it and to what extent. Naturally, most organizations will choose to implement help items that constitute the critical path, and the EPSS will continue to allow for all of the above potentially, but in practice, it will mostly serve as online help.

Looking at the EPSS from an operational perspective will lead organizations to bring it as close as possible to the operational system it supports. If possible - within the system itself, and if not - as close as possible to it. To minimize the effort required from the employee during their work to access the auxiliary information.

This view is indeed optimal from an operational perspective of the system itself. Still, it is not clear whether this is also the right decision to manage the overall knowledge of the subject supported by the system, even more so in organizational knowledge management. Naturally, an organization is also required to manage supporting knowledge, enrichment knowledge, and learning knowledge on the subject. These will typically be worked on professional knowledge sites, part of the organization's network. That is their natural place, and it is easy to include windows that integrate documents, links, lists, and detailed items. This way, optimal responses can be provided to tests, sources, considerations, and the diverse knowledge needs related to the subject.

But it is certainly possible to achieve all the goals together:

  1. Recognize that the EPSS, with its help contents and other contents, if implemented differently in the organization, is part of the organizational knowledge fabric.

  2. Therefore, it allows easy and convenient access to the knowledge stored in the EPSS from other knowledge repositories to which it is related. This can be done in two ways:

    1. The EPSS knowledge is physically stored in the portal database, where the EPSS system retrieves it from there and displays it within the system or near it. From the perspective of the system user, the storage location is transparent. Still, other users can access the information in different contexts through the usual portal tools (navigation to the content page, search engine search, and link).

    2. Physically storing the information in the EPSS system while allowing linking to dedicated pages representing each item, even from outside the system, and connecting the organizational search engine to the EPSS database also allows direct access to the information.

It should be remembered that the EPSS includes essential professional organizational knowledge.

It should be remembered that the knowledge in the EPSS is not isolated but linked to additional knowledge items outside the EPSS and is part of an overall fabric.

Suppose we plan the implementation of the EPSS accordingly. In that case, we will leverage its ability to support the knowledge worker in making decisions and improving the organization's business performance—as we said - Enterprise Performance Support Systems.

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