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Contextual Help Systems Are Better than Training Programs

By Jordan Vanderlugt
Updated October 15, 2023

RESULTSAs contextual help systems emerge in the market, a question is often asked: we are already running training programs, do we have to install a contextual help system as well? The answer to this question is yes. Training programs definitely help but contextual help systems ensure digital adoption.

Here is why.

Training programs help to transfer knowledge to end-users whereas contextual help systems help to guide end-users through steps when completing tasks. Contextual help systems are add-on applications that provide on-demand, in-time, and in-context tutorials to end-users. They provide always-available and always-relevant to-the-point tutorials that help end-users perform tasks without prior knowledge of the steps, without someone's help, and without searching the web.

Training programs are not effective long-term

For many companies, training end-users is the instinctive approach. Change managers are content after running a couple of training sessions. Training programs are simply not effective enough when it comes to sustainable SharePoint adoption.

  • Usually, people forget what they learn in classrooms within hours. Every time a user can't remember what to do when something has to be done, adoption suffers.
  • People seldom get quick access to tutorials applicable to a task at hand. The inconvenient amount of time it takes to search folders or the web for the exact tutorial is one of the barriers to adoption.
  • And, the cost of training programs for a platform like SharePoint is usually considerable, making the strategy prohibitive and unsustainable. Imagine the number of IT dedicated support personnel that you have to hire in order to laboriously provide help and support to SharePoint end-users on time and on point, every time!

The smarter way is to automate help and support after training sessions are concluded.

Contextual help systems are indispensable

With a contextual help system installed in your SharePoint environment, you don’t need prior knowledge of the interface to be able to use the platform. For example, every time you proceed to upload a document, from your first click, walk-thru bubbles or a screen-capture video display information that takes you from one step to the next; there is no need to call for help or search the web for tutorials. With the exact guidance that is always available to you, you are always able to do your work without friction.

Besides, mastery comes from practice, not classrooms. Learning by doing makes discoveries much more memorable.

For SharePoint, contextual help systems have proven to drive organic and sustainable increase in the depth of usage as well as the number of users. This is made possible by the following.

  • End-users get guidance as they are getting things done.
  • They get the right help at the exact moment of need.
  • They always put their knowledge to use immediately.
  • They get short and to-the-point tutorials in different formats, including, PDF tip-sheets, annotated screenshots, screen-capture videos, and step-by-step walkthroughs.
  • They get training in bite-sized tutorials at a time. Etc.

When working, a relevant and applicable tutorial follows you wherever you are within the SharePoint interface, it only takes two clicks to view the help item: if you are on a list, you get help items about lists; if you are on a library, you get help items about libraries; if you are on a calendar, you get help items about calendars; etc.

Moreover, contextual help systems automate training and support for end-users, reducing the burden on the IT support team. It also allows companies to deploy custom walkthroughs that help employees follow governance policies and compliance processes for documents containing sensitive data.

A contextual help system is simply much better than a set of training sessions. If an end-user remembers the steps, they will do their work. If they don't, the help system avails the right tutorial and gives them help and guidance so that they can continue with the task at hand. All roadblocks to getting things done in SharePoint are removed.

After completing a training session that introduces your employees to SharePoint, deploy an add-on application such as VisualSP and enable sustainable SharePoint adoption in your organization. Contextual help systems are built as digital adoption platforms; and, they simply work better.

Here is one example of useful content that comes with the VisualSP Help System and it's all yours!


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