The Real Docs Need is Decision Support

One of the most important tools of modernĀ businessĀ is the decision support system. Such systems can be complex and even exotic, but at its heart, a decision support system is simply a system that provides people with the information they need to make decisions.

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The question that matters to users is not usually how to press the button, but what will happen if they do press it, and whether they should press it or not. The real task problems users have are usually with decisions, not operations.
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In tech comm, we don’t talk much about decision support. We talk about task support. We frame our jobs as providing the information people need to complete their tasks. Unfortunately, what we often provide by way of task support are simply procedures for operating machines. But, as I have argued before, a task is not a procedure. In many cases, the support people need to complete their tasks is not information on how to operate machines, but information to support their decision making. Its not “how do I push the button,” but “when and why should I push the button and what happens if I do.” read more