Do You Know What Your Software Can Do?
The IT department of a major publisher had a problem. They supported hundreds of applications and databases and had to carefully schedule deployments, updates, and patches every week. But, the support engineers couldn’t find a system to keep themselves and the end users aware of what was going on.
The confusion caused accidental downtimes, missed deadlines, and extremely long days for the support teams. The director called a meeting to fix the problem. Solutions ranged from licensing an off-the-shelf package to developing a solution from scratch. After spinning their wheels for almost an hour, a systems analyst spoke up. “Why not,” she stammered, “use what we already have?” When asked to explain, she pointed out that the company’s enterprise email system, Outlook, could be used to schedule any activity, not just people and rooms. She then showed them how to use the calendar to create a color-coded schedule of application, database, and server activities. It would be precise and thorough enough for the support team, understandable by end users, and require no money, programming, or training.
The systems analyst not only had commonsense in her favor, she had also explored the tools she used daily to see if there were ways to do her job better, faster, or easier.
According to Catherine A. Ashworth at the University of Colorado Institute of Cognitive Science, most of us use software in a limited, practical, specific way. Our goal is to get a job done, not to learn software.
The downside to this focused approach is that it might overlook features and functions in the software that someday could be useful. Like the systems analyst, it helps to have a bit of curiosity and adventure to go along with our ability to crank out the work each day. This trait is especially valuable if you work for a small business. These organizations need to squeeze every ounce of functionality from the software they purchase.
What if you pushed your performance up a level by spending a few minutes each day learning and practicing a new command, function, or process? Once you’re confident that you know what you’re doing, carefully introduce it into your daily routine. You’ll like the results and so will your co-workers.
Keep Your Training on Track!
President, LeanED LLC
LeanED is an internet-based service created to meet the need for effective training that leads to individual mastery. For more information, please visit www.leaned-train.com.
Ashworth, C. A. (1992). Skill as the fit between performer resources and task demands. In The Proceeding of the Fourteenth Annual Cognitive Science Meeting (pp. 444-449). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.