Based on its name, you might guess that "Problem Steps Recorder" (PSR), a new tool built into Windows® Professional 7, was a troubleshooting aid, and you'd be right. However, companies are also using PSR as an effective and cost-efficient way to train employees and easily create tutorials and other documentation for step-by-step procedures.
You can use Problem Steps Recorder to automatically capture the steps you take on a computer. PSR can create a picture (called a screen shot) of the screen each time you move the mouse or click the mouse, and you can add a notation to each image.
The screen shots, which are each labeled with the date and time it was captured, can be zipped into a single MHTML file, which you can email to your technical support. The support person can help fix the problem quicker because it's easier to actually see what someone did on the computer, as opposed to having someone explain their actions.
"Trying to have non-technical staff clearly communicate a computer glitch to our IT consultant … can be hard," says Cory Strait, the general manager at Ames Golf and Country Club, a 100-year-old facility. "Problem Steps Recorder now makes it easy. In minutes we can capture and email the problem for faster resolution."
In addition to trouble-shooting, the utility can also be used as a tutorial and training tool. Rather than wait for employees to ask common computer questions, like how to configure email, the tech-support department can use PSR to record the proper steps and create tutorial files that guide employees through the issue.
"Training dozens of temporary employees on computer procedures is a time-sink," Strait adds. "We see Problem Steps Recorder helping us speed up the training process."
PSR can be used to document any step-by-process you do on a PC. Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), which represents the interests of Canadian municipal government on policy and program matters, relies on PSR to smooth over times when an employee is ill or on vacation.
"Since our staff is small, we need people to be cross-trained to fill holes when employees are absent," says Laurent Mougeot, SUMA's chief executive officer. "Problem Steps Recorder can help create tutorials to educate our staff more quickly."
PSR makes it simple to capture business processes for use in manuals and online training systems. After you create the detailed, screen-by-screen recording of the process, PSR lets you easily update and edit the material later.
The St. Albert Senior Citizens' Club, which provides seniors with a place to socialize and stay active, finds that PSR is crucial in helping with the organization's biggest challenge—managing the costs associated with the training and retention of volunteers.
"One of our main staff can record the member entry process for quick reference by any volunteer if they forget," says Brian Timmins, manager, St. Albert Senior Citizens' Club. "This kind of built-in help with Windows 7 is like having a PC trainer on staff."
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