Wednesday May 18, 2011

Oracle Tutor - Throwing Technology at a Problem

You’re reading a blog about two products – Oracle Tutor and UPK – that produce outputs that tell people how to do their job. What does this say about you? It probably indicates that you’re disciplined, and that you’ve found that a disciplined workplace is a more productive (and hopefully happier) workplace.

Ah, but imposing discipline on others is not so easy, is it? Just try getting a teenager to keep his or her room clean. Try getting an employee to keep a log of every outgoing call he or she makes. Try getting a manager to document all of the procedures in his or her department as well as how to use the application system to perform tasks.

At this point, many people will want to throw technology at the problem. It sure would be nice to have a robot to clean up that teenager’s room every day, and a database can certainly log an employee’s calls along with a date stamp, length of call, and number that was called. There are consultants who are willing to write the procedures for the manager.

But that robot can’t determine the best location for an item that it doesn’t recognize, so when the teen comes home with new clothes or an iPod, the robot needs an update to its programming. The database can log information about the call, but not the content of the call, which is critical information for decision making. And, if a consultant has written all of the procedures, what is the manager going to do when one or more of the procedures are out of date in three months?

So, if technology can’t substitute for discipline, what can you do? It’s all about making compliance easy.

Knowing that the teen will never hang up clothes and doesn’t care if they are rumpled means you might simply invest in a series of colorful laundry baskets. All of the teen’s clean clothes are in the yellow baskets, and the dirty clothes are in the green ones. The only choice the teen needs to make is whether an item is clean or dirty. Laundry day means the teen tips the entire basket into the washer, and, knowing this, they only get to use cold water to prevent the colors from bleeding.  It may not be the solution the parent would prefer, and in three months all of the teen’s clothes are gray, but it does get the clothes off the floor. And it’s easy.

Enabling the employee to make phone calls via VOIP means that the data about the call is logged automatically, and, if you provide the employee with a list of call topics on the screen that can be chosen while he or she is on the call, you will be able to capture basic information about the content of the call. Employees comply when it’s easy.

And if you make it easy for the manager to write the procedures – give her model procedures to edit instead of starting from scratch, use Microsoft Word which she already knows rather than a new program, capture system information by recording  her actions as she moves through a transaction – you will see compliance. And you will see those procedures and UPK topics get updated because it’s easy.

And that’s the way technology will solve a problem – if it makes life easier for the person who needs to use it.

Your comments on how you used technology to solve a problem are welcome!

- Mary R. Keane
Senior Development Manager
Oracle Tutor & Oracle Business Process Management Suite



The authors of this blog are members of the UPK product development, management, and marketing teams. On this blog, you'll find UPK news, tips/tricks, upcoming events, and general information on UPK - the easy-to-use, comprehensive content development, deployment, and maintenance platform for increasing project, program, and user productivity.


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