Imagine you are employed by a business process outsourcing (BPO) outfit, and have to transition to your team a new business process introduced by your sponsor on-site. What thoughts would you conjure up? Being an onerous responsibility as it is, the amount of planning that goes into deciding the method of transition would be humongous. Budget for on-site travel, training schedule in between the works, time to employee competence are only a few of the many considerations a transition manager would have to deal with.
Thankfully, the cumbersome past of manual documentation and knowledge transfer is behind us. Enterprises today have access to Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS), an IT work environment that enables businesses to deliver highly effective knowledge transfer programs. According to Gloria Grey, formerly a director of IT systems at Aetna Life & Casualty, and author of ‘Electronic Performance Support Systems’, EPSS is “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.” In short, EPSS leverages technology to help us achieve operational efficiency.
The very mention of software that helps in training, documentation and process efficiency would trigger any number of suggestions of alternative and seemingly less-expensive options. Most commonly heard include online help or e-learning simulations or computer based trainings (CBT). In response, EPSS scores in many areas that traditional options don’t. So, while online help mostly supports a single application and not necessarily the entire range of tasks, EPSS is customizable, scalable and application agnostic.
Similarly e-learning simulations offer replay of the procedure on-demand but are typically training oriented, while EPSS offers on-demand support that accommodates complexity of processes, longer time frames and different media types. This way, EPSS adopts a more holistic approach to improving employee productivity. As Barry Raybould, a pioneer in the use of electronic technologies for improving human performance, says, it is “a computer-based system that improves worker productivity by providing on-the-job access to integrated information, advice, and learning experiences.”
Successful vendors of EPSS technology today deliver a combination of learning, performance support and process improvement capabilities. Bigger names like SAP’s Ancile Solutions and Oracle and specialist vendors like Epiance Software and Datango offer advanced EPSS solutions. Each of these companies, in a fiercely competitive landscape, presents a host of features that make the end user experience as effective and informal as possible. Epiance, for example, provides a robust set of capabilities including collaboration (allows output documentation and authoring by multiple users), context-based support (information on-demand), user competence measurement etc, apart from the standard capture of the processes. EPSS is indeed a concept that can be built upon exponentially.
Several of the biggest businesses across industries continue to benefit from comprehensive EPSS installations in their enterprise. Banking and financial services organizations like JP Morgan and Standard Chartered leverage the technology for their banking solution software/ERP implementations— SAP, Finacle etc.—, while BPOs like Genpact, Altisource and WNS are extensive users of EPSS for business process transitions.
As businesses expand, the needs of training and performance measurement will multiply by leaps and bounds, and so will the necessity to contain costs in an uncertain economic environment. Technologies like EPSS are set to go a long way in helping achieve business process efficiency.