The following is the first article response for my IT520 class (Performance Technology) I’ve enrolled in at SIUE. Over the spring semester, I will be posting all of these reflections as appropriate.
In their article, “Performance Support for Performance Analysis” (2004), authors Scott Schaffer (Purdue University) and Ian Douglas (Florida State University) outline a project being done at the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University where software is being created to support performance analysts as they work with organizations using human performance technology. The software project was started because of an apparent lack of such software that was flexible enough to meet the needs of advanced analysts, while at the same time providing enough scaffolding for novice analysts by providing examples, support and insight into the process. In the process, Schaffer and Douglas are, “developing a performance analysis model for a set of tools configured by users based on the analysis processes that they are most comfortable with or want to experiment with.” (2004, p. 35) In essence, they are creating a piece of software that is flexible enough to allow analysts to use their own language and structures, but that will also give them guidance and an organizational structure that is search-able and object-oriented allowing for reuse of prior resources and analysis.
In this article, a diagram defined the major components of an object-oriented performance support system process. Looking at the diagram there are definitely some parallels between this one and the diagram of the Pershing Performance Improvement Process found in our textbook (Pershing, 2006) but the article seems to simplify it significantly. In the article, there are really only three steps to the planning process: define problem or opportunity, analyze, select solution blend. They then move into the building phase to begin the creation through the software. My initial reaction to this process is that it’s limiting because it seems to focus on finding a problem and fixing it, rather than focusing on creating performance systems as Pershing recommends in chapter 1. (2006)
The biggest benefit of the software seems to be the database of previous client implementations and solutions as well as past analysis of other performance improvement projects. I can definitely see how creating a search-able database would help in future projects. It also would provide the ability to make detailed notes about specific project allowing the analyst to reflect on successes and challenges after projects are complete, while at the same time, providing the transparency for both the client and any team members during the course of the project.
If I were in the position of analyzing an organization, I could definitely use the guidance of a generic system that would help me determine needs and solutions and organize myself. As I gain more experience, the ability to customize the software to meet my needs would be very beneficial in my work. As I read the article, I was surprised that the authors insinuated that there were few other software options available that were not created to solve a very specific problem. I also wonder what other support structures are available for performance analysts. I’m sure they are plentiful and well designed but, according to the authors, there’s definitely a need for a customizable solution that allows the team members the ability to share knowledge and build upon past experiences.
- Pershing, J. A. (Ed.). (2006). Handbook of human performance technology (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
- Schaffer, S., & Douglas, I. (2004). “Performance support for performance analysis”. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 48(2), 34-39.