5 Reasons Job Aids Don't Work

Posted by Jonathan DeVore

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. It connects San Francisco to Marin County, spanning 4200 feet, and has a total length of 8981 feet.
But the Golden Gate Bridge isn't just beautiful, it is also very helpful. 

What did people do before?

Before the Golden gate Bridge was built, people had to cross the bay by using a ferryboat service. Now, a ferryboat is a lot of fun – you get to drive your car on a boat, float from one side to the other, and enjoy the scenery as you cruise at a slow pace. 

But a ferryboat service does not scale very well because ferryboats, and ferryboat operators, are required to make each trip with the passengers. There is a limited number of people the ferryboat can help at any one time, and the ferryboat operator will eventually get tired of driving people around.

The Golden Gate Bridge changed that. It enabled people to travel from San Francisco to Marin County all on their own. There was no need to have a ferryboat, or a ferryboat operator, to make the journey. This gave travelers much more freedom to go where they wanted to go, when they wanted to go. 

Build a bridge, or operate a ferryboat?

In your organization, there are many situations where employees need to get from point A to point B, and they need help doing it. It may be something physical, like a signature to approve an expenditure. Or it may be something intangible, like knowing how to perform a process. And you have to decide whether you want to operate a ferryboat, and personally help them across, or build a bridge so they can help themselves across.

In some situations, such as approving a signature for a large expenditure, it makes sense to be a ferryboat operator. Nobody can make a purchase of $500,000 or more without the approval of the vice president – he is a ferryboat operator and needs to be the one to help someone get from point A to point B in that scenario.

In other situations, such as knowing how to perform processes like following up with leads, converting them into customers, or sending them an invoice, it makes more sense to build bridges. A manager or a supervisor should not have to get involved to simply remind employees how to click through screens – you want to create a resource that is always available, and helps employees get from point A to point B all on their own (e.g. a job aid).

What do you have right now?

If your users have to constantly ask you how to do something, or get your approval, you are a ferryboat operator. This is not necessarily a bad thing if that is what you want to be – some situations call for that style of management.

But if you are getting tired of having to be personally involved to help your employees perform/remember all of the steps, then you should think about building bridges instead of operating ferryboats.

Ferryboat operations create bottlenecks, are slow, and nurture an environment of dependence and inefficiency. Look at your operations, and see if you have a ferryboat helping people across when it should be a bridge instead. 

What do you need to build a bridge?

One type of bridge you can build is a database full of job aids. Many organizations begin creating Salesforce job aids, hoping that it will be a resource end users can leverage when they need help getting from point A to point B - but they ultimately fail to do it.

Here are some of the common reasons that organizations never successfully build this type of bridge:

  1. There are no standard ways to perform operations (no processes)
  2. Nobody knows where the job aids are after they are created
  3. Job aids become outdated after a few months
  4. Users aren't comfortable reading the job aids - it's easier to just ask a manager
  5. Job aids are incomplete, resulting in users having to fish for more answers

So, what do you need to build "bridges"? Basically the opposite of the list above:

  1. Standard processes
  2. A central location for all of your job aids that is easily accessible
  3. An easy way to update job aids
  4. Users who are comfortable (because you taught them)
  5. Complete job aids that help users at any stage

Creating helpful job aids users can leverage takes some planning, but if you succeed, your operations will improve substantially.

Start now, with one bridge

You don’t have to build a city of bridges in one day – just start with one and go from there.

If you're interested in learning how to build re-usable resources that help others perform processes in Salesforce, go here.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Keeton.

Topics: Salesforce documentation tips