The "last mile," a term typically used in supply chain management and transportation planning, describes the movement of products from transportation hubs to their end destinations, usually consumers' homes.
To meet the needs of their customers, companies, such as Walmart and Target, have to ensure that they deliver their products as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.
However, the challenges associated with last-mile delivery, such as deliveries to the wrong customers, unpredictable traffic incidences and problems meeting timelines, can cause massive headaches for these businesses. In fact, last-mile delivery costs are about 40%-50% of an organization's total supply chain costs.
To keep their customers happy, save money and operate more efficiently, businesses have to understand and solve the last-mile delivery challenge.
Your Company's Last Mile: Employee Training & Support
But did you know that the last-mile delivery challenge also exists in the content delivery space?
Failing to deliver the right information, support, training and tools to your employees where and when they need them is a major point of weakness in your last mile of content delivery.
If you want your employees to be productive, you have to ensure that they have whatever they need at their fingertips whenever they need it. You don't want your workers to waste time searching for information. You want to deliver it to them at their "doorsteps."
Let's take a look at the last mile of onboarding a new employee. If not done right, training a new employee can take much longer and cost more than finding that employee in the first place.
The first few weeks or so can be overwhelming for a new employee who may be trying to understand a new industry, get acquainted with co-workers and managers and get trained on new software.
The majority of new employees dread having to learn to use new, complex tools. That's because management tends to bombard them with massive amounts of information in the first couple days – information they're expected to absorb and retain almost immediately. What your new hires need is guidance and training, whenever and wherever they need it — a support system that helps them feel engaged right from the beginning.
Your ultimate goal is to have productive, profitable and happy employees. But it's impossible to boost employee productivity if they're not comfortable in the work environment and if they don't get the information they need when they need to have it.
Contextual Learning for More Productive Employees
Let's say Sue, a human resources employee, is required to take an HR compliance training course to renew her certification. And she needs to take this class within the next two weeks or she will no longer be in compliance with her company's policies.
Her employer sends her an email with information about the course, including the fact that she has to sign up as soon as possible to ensure she gets a space in the class. But Sue is so busy the day her boss sends the email that she misses it.
The next day when Sue finally has a chance to go through her overflowing inbox, she sees the email from her boss. She immediately goes to the website for the course to sign up. But guess what? The class is full and the next class doesn't start until the following month.
Obviously, sending an email isn't the most effective mechanism to convey important information.
But what if when Sue logs into her human resources portal to schedule a vacation, she gets a popup alert letting her know that she has to take the HR compliance course? Because Sue receives the information while she's in the app, she can schedule the class in real-time and she won't spend a minute out of compliance with her company's policy.
Here's another example. Let's say Harry, a salesperson at a manufacturing company, is creating a new opportunity in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales Hub application. While he's in the app he sees an announcement banner at the top of the page that informs him about some new information that he must input each time he creates a new opportunity.
Harry wouldn't have known about this new policy if it hadn't appeared in the announcement banner as he was creating the new opportunity. So he clicks on the "Learn More" link in the banner and sees an in-app walkthrough that shows him step-by-step how to complete the required task to conform to the new policy.
As you can see from these examples, context is important. You want to meet people where they are in their own context rather than making them come to you, which requires initiative and much more mental energy.
Contextual learning is a method by which employees access training modules that align with their daily workflow. Since they access learning in the moment, while they are performing active tasks, that content has context and is easier to understand and retain. It's much more effective when learning comes to the learner as opposed to the other way around.
But while this makes sense, you may not know how to provide your employees with that contextual experience.
How VisualSP Can Help
That's where VisualSP comes in. VisualSP can help by providing contextual experiences that embed directly in your web applications, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, guiding your users as they carry out their duties without having to switch context and interrupt the flow of their work.
Enabling your employees with contextual learning will give your organization a leg up on your competition. VisualSP delivers dozens of updated guided walkthroughs, tips, videos and articles when and when your users need them. Learning by doing is at the heart of how VisualSP provides the support for better utilization of your web applications.
With VisualSP, you can set any type of help content to appear automatically to users according to a predefined schedule. This provides a "set it and forget it" mechanism for VisualSP customers who want to provide scheduled contextual information to their users.
The fact is that the last mile of content delivery is challenging, but it's also very rewarding. When you deliver everything your employees need to succeed to their "doorsteps," the benefits will resonate throughout your organization.