In the chapter, Electronic Performance Support Systems: Visions and Viewpoints by McKay and Wager is to provide tools and resources that help to solve the human performance problems. The key question that the authors are trying to address is – how the EPSS can improve performance in the work place. In order to address this question, the authors are providing important information such as the components of an EPSS, goals, and scopes of performance support and the designing of EPSS with a model called ED4: EPSS (Define, Design,Develop and Deliver). The main point of view presented in the chapter is, traditional training is ineffective and inefficient for many performance problems of today, but EPSS approach can provide information, advice, learning experience and tools to perform a task with minimum support from others. In other words, it is a “Just -in Time” training in a shorter period of time (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.148 and 150). However, there are three reasons I believe the success of an EPSS is based on the internal and external environment of an organization.
First, the authors assume that internal environments (resources and capabilities) will be same in all organizations. In an example in page 148, authors explain a EPSS model in action. Here, a newly hired sales associate, on the first day of his job enters into his office and turns on the computer; the computer database provides the information to do his job with a simple click of the mouse (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.148). However, I do not agree, this instant EPSS can support all the job requirements. In order to do a job of good quality and efficiency, a sales person has to have a real time experience about product and services. In addition, the example in the book says the newly hired employee will get all the information he needs, through software or an online database. To provide software or this technological support, the organization needs to have resources and capabilities. But in the real world, the internal environment will not be the same in all the organizations. For example, the resources and capabilities of a large company will not be the same as the medium or small companies for providing EPSS. The tangible (physical assets) and intangible (brand name, reputation etc) assets differ from one company to another (Olsen, 2005). In this situation, the companies have to provide training to improve the technological knowhow of their employees. Effective training with proper motivation will produce high quality result in every situation.
Secondly, this chapter did not properly address the attitude of employees while they implement the EPSS. In other words, the degree of resistance of change by employees is not properly addressed. The chapter explains the potential scope of EPSS among individual, work group and organizations. However, individuals’ attitude towards the EPSS is very crucial. The components of EPSS, such as information base, learning experience etc are dependent upon the attitude of employees (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.150). For example, the information base provides the information for performing their job, provides online references etc. If the employee does not have a proper attitude, that will lead to complaints about the EPSS. Here, motivation plays an important role in performance problems. For instance, if an employee is positively motivated he / she will do the task with optimism and enjoyment, and an assistance of EPSS will boost the overall performance. However, if an employee is negatively motivated, then the he / she will do the task with the fear of outcome such as strike or being fired from the job etc. I think in this situation the employee will not have a proper attitude towards EPSS. In some cases this may lead to loss of motivation. The positive motivation can be generated by the concept called Management by Objectives (MBO). In this idea, the objectives are set by the employees and time line to complete the project is estimated (Brim, 2004). In that way there will not be much negative motivation and eventually will lead to performance improvement. This MBO concept can be implemented among the instructional designers and end users in order to avoid lack of motivation.
Finally, this chapter omits, the importance of external environment (economic, technological, political-legal and socio-cultural) (Olsen, 2005) in the success of EPSS. The majority of the examples in the text book are the success stories of large scale companies, who have implemented the EPSS. However, the application of EPSS in educational sector is very much dependent upon the external environment, because many educational institutions are funded by the government. Therefore, the economic, technological, political and legal barriers are prominent to implement the EPSS in the educational sector. For example, Google Earth can be used to enhance the student learning, but, many educational districts are not ready to approve these modern technologies in the class room. This is may be because of financial constraints to build computer lab and high speed internet connection and technical staff etc. The rapidly changing technological development is also another challenge to effectively implement the EPSS. The use of electronic equipment may cause some health problem-this is also not properly addressed in this chapter.
In conclusion, software or a computer application is not the only solution to the human performance problem; obviously technology can improve human performance. The success of EPSS is based on the effective coordination of internal environment and the analysis of external environment. At the same time, training is essential to impart knowledge and skill. In addition, flexibility and cost effectiveness of EPSS will enable companies to effectively adopt this system. Political and legal barriers are also emerging in the education and industry field therefore the project managers have to analyze the internal and external environment in order to stay in the market. Similarly, instructional designer has to give key attention to the instructional media while designing the project. The EPSSs are emerging very fast, therefore, instructional designers have to provide enough room for integrating the newly emerging EPSS, in order to provide better results in the future.
Brim, R. (2004). A management by objectives history and evolution. Retrieved April,28, 2009, from http://www.pua.edu.eg/Version2/Courses2/Business/Freshmen/MGT101/Slides/MBO%20By%20Dr%5B1%5D.%20Tarek%20Taha.pdf
Olsen, E. (2005). Internal and external analysis. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://mystrategicplan.com/resources/internal-and-external-analysis/
Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. (Eds.). (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.