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Performance Support Systems: The New Model to Boost SharePoint Productivity

By Alex Brown
Updated March 22, 2024

According to the eLearning Guild, a performance support system (PSS) is "a tool or other resource, 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".

Performance support systems like the VisualSP Help System for SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 & SharePoint Online drive deeper SharePoint adoption because the end user has instant access to training guidance every day. A PSS essentially provides dynamic knowledge sharing that keeps training course content alive.

Training experts have been evangelizing performance support for years. Unlike disruptive formal training, which pulls the worker away from her daily routine, a PSS can be easily embedded into an ECM platform like SharePoint. To be effective, a PSS provides the right amount of support and guidance that the worker needs within their workflow.

According to organizational learning expert Marc J. Rosenberg, PhD, the role of training is to "provide very well-planned instruction with specifically defined objectives, structure, and activities". In contrast, performance support provides the means to get work done – to complete tasks – while learning a new system such as SharePoint. As Rosenberg puts it, "learning is incidental" in a performance support environment.

The following table shows the comparison between training, knowledge management, and performance support.

TrainingKnowledge ManagementPerformance Support
WorkflowPostpone workDivert workDo work
Value of LearningLearning is structuredLearning is unstructured: self-directedLearning happens incidentally
GoalGain skills and knowledgeFind and share informationAccomplish work tasks

Differences between training, knowledge management, and performance support

Source: At The Moment of Need: The Case for Performance Support, Marc J Rosenberg, PhD

In support of SharePoint adoption goals, a PSS can drive full deployment by improving mastery earlier across various teams.

A 2014 report titled Building Staff Engagement revealed that learning innovation enabled by PSSs results in a 23% improvement in the speed of a new system rollout, and a 12% reduction in time to proven competency.

For information workers, the user experience with the tools use is critical to strong adoption and faster time to value. From the workers’ perspective, the goal when they are learning a new system is typically to get the job done. A PSS improves the user experience by making it easier to access information in a contextual way – as it sits inside the user interface.

To learn more about performance support, get our free whitepaper Performance Support: A Way to Make SharePoint Training Stick.


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