Finding the Best Way to Support Users
Designing an effective application was only half the job. Scott Sitzman and Pamela Kersh, GIS analysts at ARCO, worked to make ARCOView attractive to users who were often reluctant to learn yet another software package. Directly involving end users from the inception of the project ensured that the application functionality would fulfill users' needs, but providing a robust training and support environment made sure it was actually used. Even though a GUI-based application was clearly the better choice, having so many different ways to produce a map or perform an operation proved daunting for some users. A multifaceted approach helped users journey over the learning curve.
The Right Dose of Training
The transition started with a series of training classes for high-level users using the beta version of ARCOView. These beta classes gave Sitzman and Kersh valuable feedback on usability and performance so the application could be enhanced before its general release. Training is provided at regular intervals to introduce ARCOView to new users. Half-day classes proved to be the most popular with users who have busy schedules. They can easily retake half-day classes to refresh their skills if they have not used ARCOView for awhile. Six was found to be the optimal class size because it allows one trainer to handle questions and provide one-on-one assistance.
Just a Phone Call Away
An important aspect of the implementation is telephone support that lets users just pick up the phone to get quick answers so they can complete their work. This support resource fosters a better understanding of new concepts and reduces apprehension about using ARCOView. It has also encouraged many geophysicists, geologists, and others to learn and use ARCOView to make maps, convert and display data, and perform analysis. When they realize how easily they can do things like incorporate imagery and perform spatial analysis tasks like gridding and interpolating surfaces, in addition to the powerful import and export capabilities, they are sold on the application.
Documentation: Online and Off
In addition to the online help that comes with ArcView GIS, custom documentation was developed for ARCOView-specific functionality and added to the GUI as a separate help menu choice. Custom training course materials are also provided. The coursework is broken down into several sections that allow users to learn at their own pace and learn only the functionality that they need or are interested in. The Introduction to ARCOView tutorial is the most popular module, but other sections cover working with seismic and image data, editing map data, working with tables and charts, and many other task-specific topics. These step-by-step guides can be used in training classes or by individuals. Though a fully documented user manual is supplied, users generally prefer telephone and online support.
It's Only a Success If They Use It
Accessible support coupled with training that fits into busy schedules and documentation that supports both casual and daily users has led to the use of ARCOView by more employees for many more tasks than originally envisioned.