Creating an Employee Training Solution
In order for your company to be successful using ScreenSteps you need to know what success looks like. Just saying that you need a knowledge base or that you need a training solution usually isn't focused enough. It is much better if you can be strategic about your plans.
We suggest that you write down some concrete goals. Here are some examples:
- Decrease internal support emails/questions by allowing employees to find their own answers in ScreenSteps
- Establish clear procedures for how your business works
- Decrease the time it takes to onboard a new employee
- Decrease the time it takes to gain adoption for a new internal application
- Provide materials to support live, instructor lead training events.
1.1. Short term and long term goals
It is a good idea to break up your goals into short term and long term goals. You want to be realistic about what you can accomplish in the short term as well as what you hope to do in the long term.
For example, using the goals above you might categorize the goals like this:
|Short Term||Long Term|
|Decrease internal support emails/questions||Establish and document clear business processes|
|Provide follow up materials for an instructor lead training event||Decrease the time it takes to onboard new employees or roll out new products|
The short term goals are pretty narrow in scope and can be addressed pretty quickly. The long term goals will take a little more time and development.
The great news is that as you address the short term goals you will free up more time to work on your long term goals. How is that?
Each ScreenSteps article you create is an investment that pays dividends over and over again. Each time an employee is able to find the answer to their question without having to ask for help from someone else your company is becoming more and more productive.
ScreenSteps is designed to be very flexible but there is some planning that you will need to do before you start pushing content out to your employees. There are three areas you need to understand and plan for:
- What are sites and how do you use them?
- How will you authenticate your users?
- How will you organize your articles (manuals and chapters)
ScreenSteps Sites are web portals that your users will go to see your ScreenSteps content. A site controls:
- Who has permission to see the content
- Who has permission to author the content
- How users are authenticated to view the content
- The header and footer that will appear around your ScreenSteps content
Each ScreenSteps account has at least one site, but you can add as many sites as you like to your account (depending on your payment plan).
2.1.1. When would you use more than one site?
For internal employee training you will usually just use one site. But if you had two groups that need completely different help information it might make sense to create two separate sites. For example, you might have a sales group and a finance group. The type of content they need might be so different that it might make sense to create two separate sites.
We usually recommend starting with one site and then only create additional sites as needed. It is very easy to move articles and manuals from one site to another and, if necessary, you can even share manuals between sites.
If you need help coming up with a site organization plan, just contact our support team and we would be happy to set up a time to discover your goals and help you develop a plan.
User authentication is the method that your employees will use to login to ScreenSteps. You have a few options:
- Make your site public (no login required)
- Don't require a login, but hide your site from search engines
- Create user accounts in ScreenSteps for each of your employees
- Configure Single Sign-on for your employees
The best option is to configure single sign-on. That means that your employees can sign into ScreenSteps using the same login information that they use to login to your other applications.
ScreenSteps uses the SAML standard for single sign-on. If you have questions about configuring single sign-on with ScreenSteps, contact our support team and we can help you develop an authentication plan.
The actual content that you write is contained in ScreenSteps Articles. Articles can consist of text, images and embedded videos.
2.3.1. Manuals, Chapters and Articles
Articles are organized into Chapters and Manuals. Chapters and manuals only have titles. They don't contain any actual content. They are simply used for organizing your articles.
Most of our customers organize manuals around:
- Applications that they use
- Job roles or business units
Some additional manuals you might create are:
- Manuals that focus on a new technology rollout or upgrade
- Manuals that focus on company policies
- Manuals that offer follow up information on instructor lead training events.
The first thing you want to do is split your content into two categories:
- Articles that will be used in training
- Articles that will be referenced when someone is "stuck"
Training articles usually deal with bigger concepts or provide an overview of a process. Reference articles are generally "how-to" articles.
There are several ways you can choose to organize your content. We suggest separating your training and your how-to documents. By storing the documents in separate areas your authors and your users will have a better understanding of the purpose of the document.
3.1.1. Option 1: Group all training into one manual, with how-to articles in other manuals
In this option you would create one manual that contains all of your training articles with additional manuals for all of your how-to articles. In this example, we have left out chapter titles, but this should give you an idea of how you might organize things.
Alternatively you could group the How-to articles into a single manual with CRM Contacts, CRM Opportunities, and CRM Reports all as separate chapters.
3.1.2. Option 2: Group manuals by user role, including a training chapter
In this option, you break up your manuals by user role. You might have one role for Sales, another for Marketing, etc. Each Role gets a manual. The first chapter in the manual contains all training articles. Subsequent chapters contain how-to guides.
3.1.3. Option 3: For large sites, create multiple training manuals and multiple how-to manuals
If your site grows quite large then you might need to create multiple training and how-to manuals. Don't worry about moving articles around. ScreenSteps will automatically update any links for the articles.
We suggest waiting to break your training material out into multiple manuals until you absolutely have to (when there are too many articles for a single manual).
Remember that there are two primary ways your users will find your content:
- Searching for it
- Browsing through the table of contents
Because most users will search for your articles, make sure that you use very descriptive article titles. We suggest putting the question an article answers right in the title. So, instead of having an article titled, "Contacts", have one titled, "How to create a Contact," or "How do I create a contact?" That way your users will be able to easily tell from the search results which article will answer their question.
To help your users browse for your content, don't put too many articles into any one chapter. We find that a good limit is around 10 to 15 articles in a chapter and about 10-15 chapters per manual. If you have more than that, consider splitting your manual out into multiple manuals.
Here are some tips for writing effective "How-to" articles.
3.3.1. Put the question in the title
And make the question specific. The more specific and clear you make the question you are answering the easier the article will be to write.
3.3.2. Answer the question with screenshots
Take a screenshot of each step of the answer. As you do this your document will pretty much write itself and you will be sure to not skip over any important details.
A lot of people think that it is best to write down the steps first, before capturing the images. In our experience, those people would be wrong. Why? Because text lies - images don't. When you are writing out steps you can write anything you want, but the steps you are writing may not actually work. We see this happen all of the time. The author thinks that they know all of the steps involved, writes them out in a list, discovers that things don't work exactly how expected, and then they have to go back and change their list.
3.3.3. Add a header for each screenshot
Now go back and add a header above each image you have captured. Headers might look like:
- Select the users menu
- Select "New user"
- Enter user information
Although headers may seem unnecessary to you, your customers will appreciate the additional clarification.
3.3.4. Add instructional text
Add additional instructional text if necessary. Don't add too much though. The goal is to help the customer accomplish the task. If you put in too much detail then you may just confuse them. Only write what is necessary to help them get past the roadblock. If you want to provide additional information, create another article and reference it in your roadblock article.
Tip: Avoid caveats: Caveats in your documentation are areas where you say, “If you want this output then do this, but if you want this other output then do that, unless of course you want this other output then do this other thing.” Your user will instantly be lost. It is better to create separate articles that cover each one of those scenarios than to try to lump them into one article.
Training articles are usually quite different from how-to articles. Here are a few suggestions.
3.4.1. Be conscious of scope and detail
Scope is the breadth of the content you cover. Detail is how in depth you go into that material. In general, if you increase the scope, you should decrease the detail. If you increase the detail, you should decrease the scope.
See the video below for a more detailed explanation.
3.4.2. Embedding videos
ScreenSteps articles can contain videos. They just need to be hosted in a separate service. Some popular ones are:
Make sure that the service you are using allows you to get video embed code that supports https. If not you may run into problems where your video won't be displayed on certain pages because your browser won't allow the http video embed code to show up on an https page.
Here is how to embed a video in ScreenSteps:
3.4.3. Managing video length
Avoid creating videos that are too long. If you have really long videos, consider breaking them down into smaller chunks that are no more than 10 minutes long.
Hopefully this article has been helpful. We have gone over some basic ScreenSteps definitions, how to plan your ScreenSteps site and how to create great how-to and training content. This should give you enough information to get started with your ScreenSteps site. If you need any help at all, don't hesitate to reach out to our support team. We would be happy to help in any way.