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Performance Support Systems Essay

1587 words - 6 pages

Performance Support Systems


The purpose of my paper is to discuss Performance Support Systems, the reason why some people fear them, concerns surrounding them, and why there is a growing trend for their use and their redefinement.

Performance Support Systems Defined

Electronic Performance Support Systems otherwise known as EPSS were born in the early 1990s by Gloria Gery, who was described as an educational software guru by Phillip Longman in his journal article, The Janitor Stole My Job. A distinguishing feature of EPSS is its ability to automate many job-related cognitive skills and to give immediate instructions to assist users in decision-making processes, which still require human judgment. These are computer-based systems which provide access to coaching, learning experiences, or tools to enable a user to facilitate tasks with a minimum of support from others (Benson, 1997, p.1). To put it bluntly, EPSS is a computer application that is task-specific, offering on-demand assistance to users (Stevens, 1996, p.1).

In reviewing the various definitions of EPSS, I read that Performance Support Systems or PSS are frequently referred to as Electronic Performance Support Systems, as was indicated in my above definitions. However, according to Dr. Steve Harmon in his article, The Second S, the addition of the word electronic narrows the definition of Performance Support Systems to one specific area based solely on computers and the internet. While this technology is indeed integral to today’s performance support, I believe his point is that we should not forget that the word "system" is more representative of the topic than "electronic" (Harmon, 1999, p.1).

Immediately, the controversy is apparent. People have different perceptions of what Performance Support Systems are suppose to be, or even for that matter, what we are suppose to call them. However, the bulk of the controversy lies with people’s fears regarding the influence of Performance Support Systems in the workplace. I found references to this concern throughout all of the research that I did for this paper.

Fears, Concerns Surrounding PSS

One concern that keeps appearing in discussion circles is that people are feeling threatened by Performance Support Systems, but why? Well, when one considers that EPSS programs can provide knowledge with the mere touch of a button that would take the rest of us many years to acquire, this reality can have a humbling effect on the ego.

So are these fears legitimate or is this just a case of slighted ego? Actually, there is some basis for concern regarding the PSS trend in relation to job security. And there are comments that reinforce this feeling such as the one given by Betty Mackey, director of customer-service training. In Longman’s article she said that at the present time there are no plans to lay off college graduates or to lower salaries; however, she did not rule out that possibility in the future. She said...

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