10 Types Of Performance Support Tools From Quick Reference Guides To Mobile Apps

10 Types Of Performance Support Tools From Quick Reference Guides To Mobile Apps
Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock.com
Summary: Learning programs are most effective when they extend beyond a single training event. We rely on grab-and-go information now more than ever. By including performance support in our training programs, we can improve job performance with quick and accessible resources at the moment of need.

Performance Support Tools: From Quick Reference Guides To Mobile Apps

If you were asked what you ate for dinner 3 weeks ago, would you remember? On average, we forget 80% of what has happened, including what we’ve learned, in the past 30 days.

Now, let’s apply this concept to the workplace. A recent study suggests that 19.8% of the business time—the equivalent of one day per working week—is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively. Regardless of how experienced an employee is with regard to a particular topic, employees are bound to need refreshers.

At our core, we’re learners. Learners who seek growth and development, but don’t always have the correct tools to do so. Research demonstrates that a significant portion of information learned is quickly forgotten, especially when participating in formal training programs.

But, what is Performance Support?

"A tool or resource, ranging from print to technology-supported, which provides just the right amount of task guidance, support, and productivity benefits to the user, precisely at the moment of need." – Marc Rosenberg

Ranging from written (post-it notes, quick reference notes, etc.) to electronic (apps, learning portals, etc.), Performance Support Tools have one goal: to increase performance and productivity.

We know that learning programs are most effective when they extend beyond a single training event. With shortening attention spans, we rely on grab-and-go information more than ever, in our daily lives and in our workplaces. By combining learning opportunities in class or online with the implementation of a Performance Support System, we can improve on-the-job performance with quick and accessible resources at the moment of need.

So, how do we differentiate between the types of Performance Support Tools and which works best in any given situation?

10 Types Of Performance Support Tools

1. Quick Reference Guides

Compiling post-it notes on your desk is a hassle and quite frankly, makes your job more frustrating when it comes to accessing all the information you need at a moment’s notice. A QRG is a piece of reference content that quickly gives the learner the information they need to keep working at the moment. For example, in a medical facility, consider how many medical codes the billing department is tasked with understanding. A QRG providing a list of common codes would allow its users to process bills more quickly and accurately.

2. Infographics

Information processed visually has been shown to transmit messages faster and improve overall comprehension. Infographics do just that. They provide a visual representation of useful content to assist the learning process. Infographics can include charts and graphs, visual step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and more.

3. Process Maps

Process maps allow employees to discover how a task fits into the context of the procedure as a whole. Without the big-picture view, it can be difficult to understand why specific steps are required. Process maps provide both upstream and downstream views for a complete picture. The help teams collaborate and eliminate job "silo-ing".

4. eLearning

By making eLearning modules available for review outside the context of the initial training requirements and without the stresses of being tested, learners can browse training as a refresher. New employees can be referred to training to provide insight into their new jobs. And experienced employees can access these modules as a means of professional growth.

5. Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are especially useful for employees who don’t have immediate access to a computer or paper resource.

For example, Dashe & Thomson worked with a company to develop pest elimination training for service specialists in the field. In that role, the specialists need a lot of knowledge about past behaviors and elimination strategies to recommend best practices for the homeowner. Implementing a mobile app replaced the service specialists’ need to refer to a textbook in their vehicles, offering an immediate, on-site, mobile solution.

6. eBooks/Interactive PDFs

Chances are, you aren’t using your PDFs to their fullest potential. Once a document has been converted to PDF format, interactive features such as buttons, videos, attached files of supporting information, and more can be added. With these capabilities, you’re able to take complex information and convert it into a document the learner can navigate themselves to find the information they need. Learner engagement and learning retention both improve when a learner has control over their own process.

7. How-To-Videos

Much of what we learn involves watching someone else accomplish a task first. How many times have you referenced a YouTube how-to-video for something like how to change a tire on a car? How-to-videos can be a perfect launching pad to understand the steps involved in performing a complex task.

Similarly, this concept can be applied to the workplace. How-to-videos can be extremely useful for learning new software or efficient practices. Take a look at this how-to-video explaining how to create a pivot table in Excel.

8. FAQs

FAQs are useful when a company is initiating a change, such as a new website upgrade or software launch. With change comes questions, and FAQs can provide answers to common concerns that employees may have, leading up to, and including implementation.

9. Checklists

Checklists are most effective when trying to accomplish complex tasks, to ensure each step is completed and all key points are addressed. They can also be helpful when many employees need to perform the same tasks in the same order, or the same way.

10. Learning Portals

A learning portal is a centralized repository of all learning content the learner needs to access on the job. Portals contain job aids, QRGs, FAQs, eLearning modules, and more, and represent a single source of truth. Learning portals require ongoing maintenance since employees use this tool as a reliable source of updated data.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

In the "information age", we need to work smarter and faster. In a need-to-know situation, employees prefer to find and absorb the required information quickly and efficiently—making Performance Support Tools an ideal option to deliver content.

When used in conjunction with traditional training methods, Performance Support Tools can effectively leverage the power of application and retention.


  1. Nalkar, S. (2017, February). How Performance Support Systems Accelerate User Performance