Improve Productivity & Reduce Costs with Just-in-Time Performance Support


If you’ve worked for a manufacturing company, you’re quite familiar with JIT (Just In Time) inventory systems. Initially adopted by Toyota in the 1950s, JIT was used to eliminate waste and significantly increase productivity. The idea is to deliver resources where they are needed at the exact time they are needed, or just in time.

This philosophy has since been introduced in many other industries and disciplines outside of manufacturing, including learning. 

In fact, you probably participate in some kind of JIT learning everyday, just by typing a phrase into Google to get information you need. Stephanie Reyes of TribeHR explains that JIT learning “allows employees to access the information they need as they need it, exercise ownership over the learning process and immediately tie learning to practical application.”

If you’re thinking this sounds like a very different approach to training, you’re right. Traditional training methods usually involve a set schedule and a set location, offering students little flexibility and forcing subject matter that isn’t needed yet, but is meant to be mentally stored away for future use. Bruce Tulgan, Management Consultant and Founder of Rainmaker Thinking, said “people learn well and fast when they need to learn—when they encounter specific skill or knowledge gaps that prevent them from completing a task or achieving a desired tangible result. If a training tool anticipates the learner’s real-world skill and knowledge gaps and makes the right information easily available to fill those gaps as needed, it’s just in time.”

In the training world, we can think of JIT learning as Performance Support. What are some examples of learning content that can be delivered just in time for performance support?

  • Job Aids
  • Short instructional videos or animations
  • Brief interactive modules or simulations
  • Interactive checklists
  • Photos, diagrams or infographics

This content can be housed in a cloud-based knowledge sharing portal for easy accessibility from any device - desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

JIT Learning Has a Number of Advantages Over Traditional Methods

Cost-saving - Training can be expensive, especially when travel costs to add up. Making content available electronically from any device cuts down on travel, production and printing costs.

Increased Individual Productivity - Imagine an employee going about their day, when suddenly he realizes he’s completely forgotten how to complete the task at hand. With JIT performance support, a quick refresher is at his fingertips, allowing him to solve the issue at hand and go about his day with minimal interruption.

Improved Team Efficiency - Now, multiply that productivity across an entire team. How much more efficient is your sales, customer service or operations team going to run as a whole if every employee has resources at hand to guide them through their job on an as-needed basis?

Easily Updated - Rapidly evolving technology and shifting demographics mean that information becomes obsolete quickly. Having a JIT learning framework allows you to make updates to your content on the fly and push it out to the audience right away, ensuring that your training is never outdated for long.

Reduced Errors - “I remember they covered this in that class six months ago, but I can’t remember what they said. I think it was...let me see...oops.” Eliminate the guessing game and tasks will be done right the first time. Support employees with easy-to-access and quick-to-consume refresher content.

Improved Safety - This doesn’t necessarily apply to every industry but for some, like utilities, safety is a huge concern, not only for your team but for the public at large. Mistakes can be too costly. Avoid them and make the workplace safer.

If your organization utilizes JIT learning, how has it transformed your training? Leave a comment below and let us know.


Will Holland