The idea of NotoWare is a concept that I have been contemplating for a long time.
I have been involved with developing business software applications for the past 25 years. During that time, I was always impressed with how well the users mastered these applications. I would often see them create very innovative techniques in using the software that would go beyond the initial intent of the application’s design. This advanced application knowledge is typically what distinguished a beginner from an expert user. I also noticed the lack of a system to manage and communicate this job knowledge expertise.
Typically, efforts to document procedure information consisted of using the following tools:
- Manuals that described the application screens.
- Training documentation such as printouts of a slide show.
- Procedure documents saved on a shared drive.
These tools were simple solutions for documenting procedures which were mainly geared towards beginner users. They were usually a “write once” design that made it difficult to update with additional, more expert information as it became available.
I had noticed that the handling of expert information was done in an inconsistent manner. Users would often develop creative solutions when addressing exceptions to their job or encountering new business needs. This job knowledge expertise would typically be communicated to co-workers in a transitory way. The new valuable information would be difficult to retrieve, making it unavailable to other users who may encounter the same problem in the future. Being unable to quickly find a previous solution would result in users wasting time with lengthy searches.
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P.S. The name NotoWare is a playoff of the Latin term “noto-are” which translates to “make note”. The meaning is fitting for an application designed as a tool for noting expert knowledge.