Who Reads Online Procedures?
If your procedures are online (I added the word “online” to the title of this blog, because it seems like a more interesting question), it’s easy to track clicks to know who reads what. But IT geeks who love online procedures don’t use aging eyes to flick between tube labels, an instrument, a color reaction, and a computer screen.
If your procedures are still in sheet protectors in ring binders, you know which ones are read by a binder’s condition. Your urinalysis procedure manual looks new, while your blood bank manual looks like it was dropped from the roof. A well-used binder is carried to the work, opened and propped like a favorite cookbook, thumbed, bent, and sticky-noted.
Both options reveal who reads what, the former digitally or the latter visually. I’d say the divide runs pretty much along lines of age and experience. My generation learned with binders, so when we say “the procedure” we usually don’t mean a PDF. Younger techs adapt to us old folks. I'll bet they can’t wait to switch.
Ageism is a tempting explanation. Perhaps, my generation is afraid of or mistrusts computers. They are too unfriendly, prone to failure, and slow. I’ve never had to recharge a binder.
Computers can be unreliable, depending on your network. IT zealots can lock down your terminals, forbid right clicking, block web sites, and require lengthy passwords in a mix of upper- and lower-case, number, symbols, and foreign characters that change too often. Your organization may insist on cumbersome, poorly designed document control software, not caring to understand how critical it is for these procedures to work in real time. They may insist on PDFs, which are not optimized for online speed.
I prefer reading online, but I do it every day. At the bench, though, it’s tough to beat old-school binders with procedures in sheet protectors. They are practical and portable. Until smart tablets are commonplace on benches, I don’t see this changing.
What about your lab? Who reads online procedures?
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