Survey on how to create good user documentation

  • 9 September 2020
  • 2 replies
  • 385 views

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Hi everyone,

I currently writing the last pages of my thesis about how to create good user documentation for specific business line ERP system.

But @Per gave me the idea to ask you to get more information, ideas and share the knowledge.

I discovered that there are a lot of different types of user documentation for software, for example first steps, training material for different tasks, describing features, function or buttons on a page. And the different types of documentation have different requirements.

I think, ClickLearn has so many brilliant features to meet all the different requirements.

To do that in an efficient way and with good quality over time, I think it’s necessary to implement procedures for the documentation project. Like @Christines Project Plan Workbook.

 

​My biggest question is how to create a whole documentation for a complex standard version of an ERP system, because there are so many different features, ways to do a task and users with different experience.

Hope some of the answers will make it easier for others to join the ClickLearn Universe and create quality documentation:

What kind of documentation did you had before ClickLearn?
For example a printed handbook or documentation of procedures.

What type of content do you have now?
More like short “How Tos”, the documentation of a whole process, f.e. sales orders, documentation of more than one process or the documentation of features.

How did you decide which content will be needed?
Because the experience of users is important for the type of information they will need. It’s difficult to make one documentation for all user types of a complex software like ERP. In my experience it is nice to show the user a whole process of creating an order to writing a bill, but there are a lot of features during the processes that can’t be shown. But to have a whole user documentation you need to document all features.

Do you note the steps before you record like in a screenplay?

If you’re a team of authors do you have some guidelines?
For example which screen resolution they should use.

How to inspire others that they won’t need Microsoft Word and Screen capture Tools to create a Manuel for the ERP system anymore?

Some say…
…printed documentation like a reference book with spreadsheets of fields have more technical information and
…it is not efficient to recreate a handbook one by one with ClickLearn, so
…ClickLearn is not the tool to create a whole handbook and
…users will always want a printed version with spreadsheets.

What are your tips to create a whole Manuel for a complex ERP system?

 

I’m excited to get some feedback from ClickLearn authors and content creators. Please leave a comment or contact me with a message.


2 replies

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Oh, I am so excited for you to be taking on this topic…. one of my favorites!  Let me just share one little snippet so others can chime in.  Whenever I hear someone say that printed documentation is what the end-users want, I reply with - ClickLearn is the PERFECT solution for creating your learning materials!  Since ClickLearn creates 7 different learning materials SIMULTANEOUSLY, you can pick and choose which types of materials for your end-users to consume.  If you just rely on printed materials only, just imagine that you have printed out 30 manuals to bring into a live, in-classroom training session.  You also have a PowerPoint presentation with all the screen captures that you meticulously crafted. As you are setting up the classroom, you receive an email letting you know that there is a new customized field that has been added to the process and will need to be included in your manual!  It will be frustrating for you to have all those attendees marking up their brand new manuals just to insert that one new step.  And, keep in mind that this one, critical step will also affect the hundreds of other users already on your system…. but, how will you be able to let them ALL know about this change? 

When you use ClickLearn and create the recording, you have a whole toolbox full of editing capabilities that can be deployed to insert hyperlinks or if you need to provide additional context information to a particular step (using the Note feature), adding chapters & subchapters to break up the lengthy explanations of work instructions, and most importantly using the Replay function to rerun your steps to now pick up that newly added customized field!  

When you are ready to get your learning materials out to the end-users you will place your recording in a book/category and activate the live assistant, then place your books onto a learning portal (which we call a shelf in ClickLearn), then publish everything to an HTML link that you will directly embed into any application so it will be readily available for consumption by the people who need the instructions most…. your end-users! 

So now all your materials have been updated from just that one source recording file, all the videos as well as the downloadable documents (which we know people LOVE to print out and hold onto) and the webpage.  And, if you need direct, online assistance within your application - fire up the live assistant and let them lead you through the work process while speaking to you AND showing you how to perform the functions.  ALL of this created, simultaneously, and delivered via one learning portal, neatly stored directly within your application - right at their fingertips. Making updates is a breeze because you do it right from the original recording, produce and publish the updated materials and now everyone in the organization will have access to that new customized step you’ve included, and not just the roomful of attendees in your one, isolated training session. 

Great questions!  I hope to see other responses for you out here soon, too. :) 

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Hi Christine,

thank you for you quick and extensive Reply :)

I totally agree that ClickLearn is a brilliant tool to meet all the requirements for different content.
And I’m more inspired after I watched the “Show & Inspire: How other authors utilize ClickLearn (recording)”, where @Jonathan Small, @kyliekiser, @llockard, @Dan Madden, @Michael Foster, and @Anja Schmid participated. Thanks to @Lucia for recording and sharing. It’s amazing what ClickLearn helped the authors to build.

But with the opportunities of ClickLearn my question is how to decide which type of information to focus on.

The task I’m struggling with is filling the content development list with a good stucutural behind. Because there are so many ways in our solution to do a task, so many features you can use to do the same step of a process. So, do I create 5 different recordings for each way of every step of a process, because it’s to much for one video.

I liked what @Michael Foster  has done by giving the user an overview in each book and then showing the user how to do a specific task and features they also can use.

In my opinion application developers often think of the software as modules and features and a Manuel or Handbook is something that describes reference information, like all the buttons on a page in a spreadsheet. And these authors have difficulties to document the reference information in an efficient way with ClickLearn. Because the reference information is just one type of content and won’t explain the user how to do a task, so I think only reference information won’t give them the help they need. But how to structure the different type of content and information so you don’t have everything twice.

Another point of course is to have procedures and a development and a documentation team, so you will be informed when there are changes in the software. But I’m just one working student with the task to document an ERP system for the customers.
I think @JoachimSchiermacher also wrote about how to decide which E-Learning content to focus on in the “Best Practice - Implementation Guide” to integrate ClickLearn in your company.
But I think for an ERP Partner which provide the EPR Costumer with the opportunity to reproduce their own processes within the standard ERP system, it’s a lot more difficult to provide good process orientated training material. Because every customer has their own ways, who will do and how they will do a task.

 

So, what do you say process, feature or role orientated or maybe a mix?
What content do you expect from an ERP Partner to provide?

 

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