Performance support is in the midst of its second revival. The first, back in the 1990s, introduced us all to the idea that you could help people learn quicker, and do their jobs significantly better and faster, by integrating specially designed tools directly into work applications.

While those early efforts were often quite impressive, they were also quite expensive and required unique programming and technology skills. Every performance support project was a custom development job.

Fast forward to today, where a new category of performance support development tools are making it much easier to create resources that support work at the moment of need. They are much less costly, easier to use, and faster to learn.

One such tool is Leo (learn, evolve, operate), by Kryon Systems, an Israel-based software company with a growing presence in the United States. As Kryon puts it, “Leo provides workers exactly what they need when they need it: real-time in-application process guidance and automation.”

Leo merges performance support technologies, learning and development strategies, and desktop automation to create what Kryon calls a performance assurance model that focuses on service-facing organizations like sales, operations, customer care, and many other business functions that rely on software to accomplish their mission. Leo is also available to independent software vendors (ISVs) to incorporate into their solutions.

How Leo works

Leo focuses on helping workers get it right the first time. In supporting users at the moment of need, Leo employs both push and pull delivery methods, operating in two modes, “guide me” and “do it,” in the live application in real time. Leo needs no back-end integration.

Leo’s “guide me” mode is analogous to a GPS in a car. It takes users through the steps of any software-based work process, prompting the user to complete the task, and monitoring and correcting any mistakes made along the way. When the user has to input data into a specific field, for example, Leo is smart enough to know if the input is correct. Where necessary, additional help appears on the screen in context, including links to any appropriate supporting resources.

The “do it” mode takes the car GPS analogy further, by also steering the car and driving the wheels. Leo takes over, moving through the steps of the process automatically. Like the “guide me” mode, when it needs user input, Leo asks for it and watches to provide corrective feedback, if necessary, or confirm the action and move forward.

YouTube videos of Leo “guide me” and “do it” modes are available here.

In both modes, Leo makes it easy to ask for help at any time. It uses natural-language search to find the appropriate support for the task at hand, like creating a table of contents in MS Word (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Leo uses natural language search to help you find what you need

Leo architecture

The Leo product suite includes three components: Leo Player, a lightweight desktop plug-in; Leo Server, the application’s cloud-based repository and administrative tool; and Leo Studio, the application’s authoring environment (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Leo’s architecture

Authoring: the special sauce

Leo Studio allows SMEs or training professionals to create both “guide me” and “do it” modules for any software application. As in many software-simulation tools, the first step is to record each step in the process as someone is doing it. Then, Leo Studio goes further. The output creates LeoWizards that you can augment with specific workflows, advice, narration, and links to additional resources.

Leo Studio itself is template and wizard driven, requiring no advanced programming or technology capabilities. It works with any application, and you do not have to integrate it into the target software, thus saving countless IT development hours. Its publishing and editing functions are both easy and secure. And, Leo is compatible with today’s eLearning technologies. Finally, Leo generates a process diagram of the performance support intervention for easy author validation. You can see several demos of Leo Studio here.

Try Leo

Rather than paste a lot of screen shots into this review, the Leo website offers an opportunity to try Leo for Microsoft Office products (Microsoft OS only). Give it a go here.

Support services

Kryon provides a number of optional support services for Leo, including deployment consulting, Leo Studio training, content development services, and a variety of ongoing technical support packages. They also offer an “up to speed” service that provides additional support through the customer’s first project.

Bottom line

There are many compelling reasons to use performance support in the learning arena, where the demand for greater efficiency and better performance is increasing, and in almost every front-line operation, where higher productivity, fewer errors, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction are driving today’s successful businesses. Leo represents a new and proven way to go—beyond just helping people learn how to do the work, but to actually getting the work done.