Simplification

Android 2.2 - Keyboard I hate lengthy procedures. 

To explain why, about five years ago we moved our entire file management from RecFind over to Objective.

An amazing feat in itself, yet not quite as amazing as the untraining of staff from the old system and the consequential new-training involved with learning in the new system in such aspects as:

    • how to record both paperwork and existing files in the new database,
    • move paperwork and files (both person to person and area to area, and a mix of all),
    • maintain the data with consistent appearances (an on-going battle),
    • modfiy data to allow for change of names,
    • add new data (and often into ‘description’ fields because no other covers the issues).

But learning all of those procedures came from rather in-depth manuals. Lots of screen-dumps, bolding, underlining, but few arrows.

Unbeknownst to the bosses, myself and colleague (who has gone on to be the official point-of-call for all file-management issues) had carefully discected the manuals, listened attentively during the few training sessions supplied … and had re-written the manuals.

On my own, I converted one of the manuals – which was one of the shorter ones at around 20pages – into a 1 page step-by-step manual. No screendumps, no arrows, just short one-word menu dropdowns.
ie: File \ Open \ etc
I put this forward to my colleague who informed me it was waaaaay too simple for most staff. Turns out she was correct.

People wanted to see where these drop menu’s were. So the document was increased to 3 pages with a smattering of screen dumps. Which amazed me that it was necessary.

ZigZag Walkway

See, I come from a computer-background.
I started playing with computers around 1984. Though back then we had a ‘VZ 200‘ which consisted of a keyboard and a tape-deck which needed a monitor. Thankfully the B&W 15″ Phillips TV we had for a TV was perfect. In the late 80’s, I saw Commodore64‘s for a while, but never had the chance to touch one. In the early 90’s I had access to IBM-compatible PC’s with Windows98, PLUS the CES paid for MS Access, MS Word, MS Excel and a myriad of other computer courses. Heck, the CES even paid for typing classes, but I was already doing 50wpm thanks to a forward thinking highschool ten years earlier!

Thanks to all the computer classes, I have gotten savvy to two main ways to utilise computer programs: Via the mouse OR via the keyboard. Actually, there are two other ways, one of which involves relying on the arrow and tab buttons to get around the GUI of nearly any program. Not fun.

Once I knew the keyboard and mouse commands, re-building lengthy procedures is simplified. Once you have learned that the top-menu of most programs has the dropdown-menu (FILE, EDIT, etc), accessing actions for utilising the features of any program is much easier.

So many of the manuals I am required to use for file-management I have broken down into steps, then re-written as menu-commands (with a few arrows and brackets to make life a little easier), and laminated as cue-cards for easy self-training.

Why the need to tell you this?

23rd Hymn

Today I learnt a new area of Objective, plus how to use our online facility to find and request files from our offsite storage location. The existing manual to do all of this is very good, with lots of screen dumps. It is incredibly handy, as I cannot see many of the screens without actually having work to see and use from the screens.

Yet I am breaking it down into a version that I can personally use. By the end of this week, I hope to be able to complete my colleague’s duties when she takes some holidays early next year. I’m going to enjoy being able to refer to my procedures quickly and efficiently to complete the work within the expected time frames.

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