Performance Support
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MentorWizard targets the construction of applications that assist workers in the performance of complex tasks. Such tasks make up the basic business processes of an organization. They often require a user to conform to a variety of business rules. Applications that address these tasks are known as performance support
applications.

Performance support applications usually traverse steps with multiple options and facilitate tasks that are performed repeatedly. They are quite different from creative tools, such as word processing or spreadsheet applications. These creative programs give the user a blank page or sometimes an outline or template, and then ask the user to create something useful. The application itself has no way of knowing if the result actually meets the user's needs. A performance support application, on the other hand, guides the user through a maze of business rules that guarantee a correct result.


 
Those unfamiliar with the concept of performance support may find the book Electronic Performance Support Systems by Gloria Gery helpful. Another useful resource is located at EPSS Central
on the Web.  
 

 
Much of the wisdom that guides user interface design is based on the requirements of creativity applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. However, the ideal interface for a creativity application is not necessarily suitable for performance support applications. The author's experience with computer-assisted performance support applications suggests that a different approach to user interface design is needed for these applications.

The familiar Graphical User Interface (GUI) component known as a "wizard" is a simple example of the computing model used by MentorWizard. In a sense, MentorWizard applications are large collections of wizards. These MentorWizard applications are built with steps that are similar to web pages:
 
1.   Steps are defined with ordinary text.  
 
2.   Steps can be downloaded across the Internet as needed.  
 
3.   Steps are rendered by a display engine in the same way that a browser displays web pages.  

MentorWizard applications are segmented into tasks and sub-tasks, each of which is implemented as a sequence of steps. These wizard-like tasks and sub-tasks deliver performance support for business processes.





Examples:
 
·Prepare a tax return.  
 
·Check in for a flight at an airport kiosk.  
 
·Specify an industrial pump or similarly complex industrial product.  
 
·Diagnose and treat a sick patient.  
 
·Create a new account at a financial institution such as a bank or brokerage.