Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on March 28th, 2018

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4 Steps to Automate How You Teach New Employees Your Company Policies, Procedures, and Processes

ScreenSteps Employee Training Platform

When new employees are hired on, your company needs to take care of 3 main things:

  1. Paperwork (insurance, taxes)
  2. Compliance training (e.g. ethics training, security awareness training)
  3. Operations training (policies, processes, and procedures)

I'm betting that you've already got something in place for #1 or #2. Plenty of HR systems deal with paperwork, and several LMS apps deal with compliance training.

The question for today is, do you have a system in place for #3?

Can new employees learn how to...

  • apply your policies,
  • follow a process, or
  • perform a procedure

...with the same ease as taking security awareness training? 

If not, I'll share one idea that I got from one of our customers, VMware. 

VMware HOL (Hands on Labs)

VMware, has been using ScreenSteps for a few years as part of their hands-on labs for training people how to use its tools. VMware's approach for teaching new users how to navigate around and perform tasks is pretty cool – VMware...

  1. uses ScreenSteps to create content, and
  2. builds its own virtual environment (like a sandbox) with the ScreenSteps instructions on the side, walking a user through different tasks. 

This setup works great! VMware user training scales really well, and VMware users are able to practice doing a procedure instead of just watching a video of somebody else. Here's a picture of what its hands-on labs looks like:


That's nice...but we aren't VMware

If only every company could build out their own virtual training labs : )

In the past, I've encouraged nonprofits and businesses to train employees in a sandbox. But one customer brought up the obvious point that creating sandbox exercises for employees doesn't scale very well.

That got me thinking – what if ScreenSteps could offer something similar to what VMware does, but in a way that's more feasible for SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) to implement? A kind of LMS for teaching internal policies, processes, and procedures.

ScreenSteps makes it possible for any business

Well, three weeks ago, using ScreenSteps and Adobe Captivate together, we created a course that does just that. In the GIF below, you can see me in the course, clicking on a software simulation while following a ScreenSteps checklist/how-to article on the side. 

Courses and Captivate-large.gif

Putting the course materials together was pretty simple. Here's how I did it...

Step 1: Create Software Simulation in Captivate (18 minutes)

I used Captivate to capture some screens and create a software simulation. You could use whatever software you'd like (e.g. Storyline), but for $29/month, Captivate fits the budget and works well for what I need.


I thought this was going to take hours. But once I got the hang of Captivate (about 10 minutes), I was able to create a simulation of a simple task in about 18 minutes. Key word being simple. I don't think the software simulation has to include dozens of branching scenarios for this purpose. I just put one click box one each screen.

You are welcome to do more – but my goal isn't to trick the learners or get them going on a wild goose chase. My goal is to get the learners familiar with what the software looks like, and comfortable following SOPs to perform a task in the software.

When I finished creating the software simulation, I exported the file to HTML5 > uploaded the file to a server > copied the Embed code > pasted the embed code to an article in ScreenSteps. Really, it's a similar process we use to include video in a ScreenSteps article.

Step 2: Set Up The Scenario (4 minutes)

I created four articles, and added them to a ScreenSteps Course.

The screenshot below is the "scenario" article. It's an image from Pexels and some text on the side (to explain the context). The article took me about 4 minutes to create.


After the scenario is explained, the learner begins the activity – and this is where it gets cool.

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Step 3: Add Chrome Extension (12 minutes)

In most LMS simulations, you are either asking the learner to watch a 30-minute video of you clicking around a screen, or you are asking the learner to just randomly click around the screen and either follow the prompts from a voice, or figure it out on their own.

But those approaches don't address the memory problem. After training is over, users will forget A LOT of information. Watching a video or clicking around the screen won't improve retention that much.

That's why in ScreenSteps, we also include the Chrome Extension.


When a learner clicks on the Chrome Extension, she can follow the procedure by referencing a checklist...


...and by referencing how-to job aids...


Since I knew the procedure really well, it only took about 12 minutes to create the checklist and the how-to instructions. 

Step 4: Send Job Aids to Your Business Applications

When a learner is done with the course, and transitions into being an employee, we know she's going to forget where to click and what to do. And that's OK – you've prepared her for this moment.

We included the contextual help in the course for this very purpose. So that learners could practice using your SOPs and job aids, and know how to get help when they forgot.

Now, when an employee is asked to reimburse somebody, she will use the same Chrome Extension that was in the software simulation because it's also in the actual business application (e.g. Salesforce, Netsuite, Xero, Business World).

Actual application.png

Employees are familiar with what they're looking at (because of the software simulation), and familiar with following the checklist and using job aids.


The LMS That Bridges the Gap

There you have it. A LMS for teaching employees how to apply policies, follow a process, and perform a procedure in a way that's realistic AND effective.

This approach provides you with a lot of perks. First, the learner is able to navigate around software she might be unfamiliar with, in a safe environment. It's a software simulation, so she won't break anything.

Second, the user is learning the context of when this task would be performed. She's not just being told, "to create a reimbursement form, click here..." She's approaching this exercise with some context – "when a committee member uses her own credit card to purchase games from Amazon, she needs to be reimbursed. Do the next exercise to learn how you reimburse her."

Third, the course is completely self contained. If you were onboarding 30 new employees, you could send them all to a course and not worry about creating sandbox accounts and practice accounts. Just assign the new employees the course and let them begin practicing.

Fourth, the checklists and job aids that learners are using to practice during training are THE SAME that they will use after training is over. Instead of expecting learners to remember what to click, you are instead teaching the learners how to use your SOPs and job aids to perform their day-to-day tasks.

In other words, you are teaching them how to find (and use) help when they forget. And that lesson will pay huge dividends down the road.

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About Jonathan DeVore

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