Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on April 3rd, 2021

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5 ways PDF guides help with cloud implementation (& how to create them with ScreenSteps)

Your company has decided on new cloud software and now you need to prepare the training materials to teach employees how to use the system. Lucky!

The only problem is the tools you are familiar with don’t seem up to the challenge. In the past, you’ve used PowerPoint, Word, OneNote, or other similar programs to write guides and training materials.

And that makes sense — these programs are familiar to you, you probably already have them on your computer, and those options probably worked great for your other L&D projects.

But a cloud implementation is a different animal than anything you’ve tackled before (they always are). Not only will it be a lot of work, but you’re going to need to be even more organized.

Here’s the thing — to write clear user guides for a cloud implementation, you’re going to need to include a lot of screenshots and how-to information. And over the course of the cloud implementation, things are going to change. A lot.

One month, the system will work this way and you’ll have to prepare training guides for user-acceptance testing. The next month, because of user feedback, the system changes and you need to update the training guides for more training and testing. 

Even after you roll out the new cloud system to employees, the system is still going to be changing. And your training guides (and all of those screenshots) will need to keep up or else your internal support team is going to be overwhelmed by the number of questions coming in asking, “Hey! Something’s changed! How do I do…”

The good news is that ScreenSteps was specifically designed for creating the type of user guides that you’ll need to train end-users on cloud technology. 

As a customer success advocate, I’ve worked with dozens of teams over the past seven years to prepare for cloud implementation. I’ve helped them use ScreenSteps to create PDF user guides that they use during user acceptance testing, rollout training, and post-implementation support. 

In this blog post, I’ll show you five simple ways PDF guides help with cloud implementation and how you can create them with ScreenSteps.

1. To provide specialized instructions for different groups

When you begin writing your manual, you’ll want to first determine how many different groups you have. Each department has specific responsibilities, which means one overarching training manual won’t help them. 

If you are doing a cloud implementation for one specific group, then you will create a manual in ScreenSteps specific to that group.

If you are doing a cloud implementation for several groups, then you’ll need to break those groups out into separate manuals. Your sales team will need a manual just for them. And your loan officers will need a unique manual to fit their needs. 

Create as many manuals as you need, one for each of the departments or teams you’ll be supporting.

Tip: If you create a ScreenSteps manual for one group, you can duplicate the manual so that a lot of the pieces are there to begin with — you don’t have to start from scratch.

🔎 Related: Why creating PDF guides in ScreenSteps helps you launch your site faster

2. To organize instructions into chapters

For each manual, break it into chapters. These chapters will make it easier for your employees to skim when they need to find a piece of information.

Your chapter names could either be areas of the cloud application that the group will be using (like Accounts and Leads) or they can be areas of responsibility related to the groups (like Lead Generation, loan applications, underwriting, or qualification).

Further organize each chapter by creating articles. This is where you are going to document specific tasks or answer specific questions. An example of an article title is “Adding pricing information” or “Following up with a lead” or “Adding a risk rating.”

If you want to create some general instructions — like “how to log in” and “how to create an account” — I recommend creating a separate manual that covers the general navigation of the new cloud system. 

You can either export the general instructions guide as its own PDF or you can reference those materials in the group-specific manuals. If you reference the group-specific manuals, then you’ll want to create a chapter called, “General Navigation,” and include those basic articles.

Tip: Have articles or chapters that relate to several groups? You can easily share them or duplicate them between manuals.

3. To add content to the articles

While Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and similar software programs are great for writing text, they often fall short when it comes to creating a visual training manual.

Reading is only part of the way people learn — especially when it comes to learning complex processes. And procedures are often complex when it comes to learning a new cloud software. 

People need both word and visual cues to know how to handle different situations they will encounter with the new cloud program.

When you need to add content to the articles, ScreenSteps has a one-of-a-kind editor that makes it easy to grab screenshots and put them into your article. 

Add annotations and text. And boom! You now have a tutorial that answers a specific question or explains how to perform a specific task.

But you don’t want to limit your guide to the basics and generic procedures. Do some homework: try to understand the different scenarios that end-users have to respond to. Then create instructions for those situations. 

That way, during training, you can have trainees go through the scenarios while using your guide for help.

Tip: When you are trying to document different scenarios your employees encounter, capture those scenarios in a spreadsheet or in ScreenSteps. Write a few notes and save them as a draft. Then you can finish filling out the details later.

Create a PDF

4. To export PDFs and share instructions with your team

Download the step-by-step instructions by generating PDFs. You can either print them off or upload the PDFs to a shared file (ie: in DropBox or SharePoint). 

You have three options for generating a PDF:

  1. Export each article as a separate PDF
  2. Export the chapter as a PDF (each article is exported out with it)
  3. Export the entire manual as a PDF, which auto-generates a table of contents with your chapters and articles

That way, your sales team will have a PDF manual specifically for them and it can include all of the instructions on how to perform any task in the new cloud system.

Once you have your PDF guides, use those during your training when you begin discussing how to use the new system. Don’t create user guides and let them sit on the shelf while you go through PowerPoint slides that include screenshots.

If you want your end-users to use the guides after training, you need to incorporate them during training.

Tip: Create a Trainer’s Guide version of a manual and an end-user guide of a manual. The trainer’s guide has additional notes and information to help guide the trainer’s delivery during onboarding. 

If you use this approach, you will create the trainer’s guide first as a ScreenSteps manual. You can then duplicate that manual and remove the instructor’s notes.

🔎 Related: Why you shouldn't use ScreenSteps to create PDFs (and when you should)

5. To effortlessly update your guides

Once you’ve completed your PDF guides, your work isn’t done. Because your company is always progressing and changing, you will need to regularly update your guides with accurate information.

Luckily, updating your PDF guides in ScreenSteps is fast.

When the PDF needs updating, you can jump into ScreenSteps and update the specific article. ScreenSteps has a great feature that allows you to swap out old screenshots with new ones. Then export to PDF again.

Tip: Set aside time each week to update your guides. If you even dedicate an hour each week to keeping your guides up to date, you won’t need to worry about not providing your employees accurate information.

It’s your turn to create a PDF guide in ScreenSteps

Are you ready for a faster way to document your procedures for a cloud implementation? 

When you use ScreenSteps to create PDF guides, you can swiftly document procedures and keep them organized. With ScreenSteps’ array of content creation tools, it makes it easier for employees to learn and follow processes. 

Once you are finished creating guides, it is easy to export the guides for training and day-to-day assistance.

Plus, you’ve laid the groundwork for your searchable knowledge base. All the information you’ve written for the PDF guides can also be used if you decide to launch a ScreenSteps site (your company’s personal searchable knowledge base) in the future. 

Do you want to see one of your procedures in ScreenSteps? You can try creating PDFs for free. When you sign up for a ScreenSteps free trial, you have 14 days to experiment with the PDF and knowledge base features. 

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About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success