Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on November 11th, 2022

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How ScreenSteps Works With Complex Systems

“Will ScreenSteps work for my company? I have complicated policies, processes, and procedures.”

We often hear this concern from companies. Every company believes that the complexity of its systems is unique. You may feel there’s no way the processes and procedures can be documented in a way that an average Joe (or Jane) could easily follow them.

We get it. Procedures in companies are super complicated. There is not a single customer we have encountered that only has simple procedures. And it’s true — there are unique challenges with documenting complex procedures that are specific to your company.

With that being said, there is also not a single engaged customer we didn’t find a way to simplify procedures with proper documentation practices and a ScreenSteps knowledge base.

As the Director of Transformational Services at ScreenSteps, I’ve worked with some companies that have incredibly complex procedures. We’ve helped build:

  • Troubleshooting guides for medical devices
  • A guide for processing the return of delivered merchandise
  • Flows for adding and billing insurance
  • Steps for processing a new account at a city’s water department

Those standard operating procedures involved decision trees that had dozens of outcomes. They were the definition of complex.

Does ScreenSteps work with complex systems? Yes, and I’ll explain how.

First, I’ll point out the two ways systems can be complex to help you identify what makes your systems complicated. Then I’ll explain how ScreenSteps helps simplify your complex processes and systems so that anyone can complete your procedures without mistakes.

Defining complex systems

What does having complex systems mean?

There are many ways a system can be complex. Is the complexity in the written procedures? The underlying subject matter? Or in figuring out what’s going on?

Typically, when companies say they have complex systems, they’re referring to one of two things:

  1. It’s complicated for the end-user to determine what’s going on (e.g. “Why didn’t my insurance company pay for services?”)
  2. It’s complicated to follow a known procedure (e.g. adding and billing Blue Cross Blue Shield)

Let’s break these down a bit more.

1. It’s complicated for the end-user to identify what is happening

Often what companies mean when they say, “It’s complex,” is that it is difficult for the end-user (i.e. reader, employee, etc.) to figure out what is going on and what they need to do.

In a word, employees need to do some critical thinking and troubleshoot a problem.

The underlying challenge here is that an observed behavior or transaction is going on and it’s not clear why it’s going on. So, the end-users need to first determine what is happening and get clarity as to why it’s happening.

Once end-users determine the underlying cause, the policy or procedure for responding may actually be pretty straightforward.

The key here is helping end-users determine which procedure is necessary. Once they understand which procedure they need to use — even if that procedure is complex — there is no problem in handling that procedure.


This is something we see a lot in call centers. That’s because every call is different. When a call center agent answers the phone, the caller isn’t always clear about what they need, so the agent needs to first figure out why a customer is calling.

For example, a healthcare call center rep may get the question, “Why are you sending me a bill?”

That’s a complicated question. There could be a dozen different reasons why the caller is getting a bill. In this situation, the rep needs to pull up the person’s account and figure out what is going on. It requires critical thinking and troubleshooting. Depending on the situation, you can capture the steps in a workflow article or a checklist.

Once the rep goes through the patient’s account and realizes the caller doesn’t have insurance on their record, then it’s just a matter of adding and billing their insurance, which is also something you can capture in a workflow article.

How to Plan, Build, and Run a New Hire Training Program That Works Download

2. It’s complex to follow a known procedure

Sometimes it’s clear what’s going on and what needs to be done — but the actual process that needs to be done includes a lot of steps, variables, and decision trees.

The truth is, when we get down to the brass tacks of the operational procedures, there often is a lot of complexity.

But there’s a glimmer of hope: Out of the thousands of procedures I’ve documented over the past 10 years, I’ve never encountered a procedure where we couldn’t document known steps with a ScreenSteps workflow article.


Continuing the billing example above, once the agent knows that they need to add and bill insurance, they would follow the procedure to bill their insurance.

Now, your agent would never be able to memorize all the rules and steps for adding and billing each insurance company. So, instead of waiting 18 months for an employee to remember the steps, you can create a workflow article to walk your agent step-by-step through the procedure for billing insurance.

If you approach documenting the process and procedure in the right way, you can document and capture all the scenarios and possible outcomes.

Teaching critical thinking skills

To help reps solve complex problems, they will need a combination of critical thinking skills and documented guides.

3 ways ScreenSteps helps you explain complex procedures

Now that you understand where the complexity of your processes and procedures lie (either in figuring out which process is necessary or the actual execution of the process), you can use ScreenSteps to simplify how the steps are communicated to your end-users.  

The guides and courses you create provide your end-users with the training and tools they need to do their jobs.

Here are three ways that ScreenSteps works with complex systems.

1. Provide a way to explain the background behind the complexity

When you use ScreenSteps for your knowledge base, we encourage you to use the Find & Follow Training Framework for your training.

Using Find & Follow, you will create foundation courses, which you store in “Courses” in ScreenSteps.

These foundation courses are meant to provide your employees with explanations behind the processes and jobs they’ll be doing.

You can include videos that provide a high-level walk-through of complex processes. The videos explain the context and the background information of a procedure. It doesn’t go into the intricate details of a procedure.

Note: The Find & Follow Training Framework also includes role-playing activities. These practice scenarios will expose your employees to complex procedures and allow them an opportunity to practice working through them.

End-users practice their critical thinking skills to determine the purpose of a task. Then they role-play handling that situation from beginning to end by following your guides in ScreenSteps.

2. Guides help navigate through variables and decisions

When you look at a complex procedure, it can be overwhelming. Typically, complex processes have large decision trees. It’s a crazy web of intricate details that employees need to memorize … unless you have workflow articles.

Workflow articles can help solve both areas of complexity as described in the first section of this blog post.

Workflow articles walk your employees through the options and decisions of a procedure or troubleshooting guide. You can start by asking a series of questions that help your end-users identify what is happening and which procedure they need to perform.

3. Guides also include click-by-click instructions

The workflow articles simplify the procedure by including click-by-click instructions that walk the employee through each step to complete the procedure.

Because you can link to reference guides, insert charts, and include screenshots within your ScreenSteps articles, the answers are at your employees’ fingertips. They don’t have to search for each piece of information they need in a different location.

Simplify your processes with software designed for the complex

Sometimes it is impossible to escape complex systems and processes. Luckily, it is possible to simplify those processes and procedures with the right tools.

With ScreenSteps, you put the instructions at your end-users’ fingertips. By planning carefully crafted help guides and storing them in ScreenSteps, your end-users have a clear path on what to do no matter how complex the decision tree is.

We have customers in all sorts of complex industries — medical, banking, transportation, etc. Leveraging ScreenSteps and the Find & Follow Training Framework, these companies have saved thousands and up to millions of dollars.

Want to find out if ScreenSteps would work for your company?

Schedule a time to talk to one of our ScreenSteps experts. They will help you determine whether ScreenSteps could help simplify your complex procedures.

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About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success