Planright user guide

Using educational content to drive sales

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Not long ago, I helped a software company called PlanRight convert more leads into customers by writing some educational content for their help section.

Overview

You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional services firm that doesn’t track its time. Consequently, this means that there’s a lot of time tracking software, to help firms keep an eye on how much time their staff are spending on jobs.

PlanRight is not time tracking software. Rather, it is capacity management software that connects to time tracking software called WorkflowMax. A manager can use PlanRight to see what how much capacity each employee has, what jobs they are committed to, and how much time is left on the budget for each job. This makes it easier to make sure everyone is busy, and nobody is is over-committed.

PlanRight’s problem

PlanRight wasn’t converting leads at the rate they’d have liked to convert them. They found that if they got people on the phone, and walked them through a few key tasks, they would quickly “get it,” see the value, and turn into a paying customer.

Problem is, this approach isn’t very scalable, as it’s very resource-intensive to call up every single new customer and walk them through the setup process. So they needed a resource to capture the essence of these calls, without making the calls themselves.

A user guide to guide the users

I proposed a “getting started guide.” This would live on PlanRight’s help page, and guide new users through the first few things they needed to do in order to start getting value out of PlanRight.

PlanRight would be able to just send this to people, then call them to help with specific questions, rather than work through the entire process on the phone.

First step: a chat, and some trial and error

First, I sat down with Planright founder Andrew Butel for an hour or so, and he showed me how the software worked, as well as walking me through the first tasks people need to do in order to get value out of it.

I then signed up for a PlanRight account, and tried to work through the steps we’d talked about. This took a bit of trial and error, but it’s very user-friendly software, so I was able to figure it out pretty quickly.

Using screenshots to bring it to life

Then I got screenshots to help people get a better idea of what we were telling them to do. These were just images of the relevant bit of the software, occasionally annotated with arrows and highlights from the Preview software on my Macbook. I think this approach went a long way towards making the guide more useful - it’s very hard to contextualise software instructions, and follow them, using words alone. Here’s an example:

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Writing the guide

From here, it was a matter of just writing the guide. I started by explaining the first three things a new user needs to do. If someone doesn’t do these things, he or she is not going to get much value out of PlanRight.

  1. Connecting to WorkflowMax

  2. Setting up a team

  3. Planning a job

If someone does these three things, they will immediately be able to see how PlanRight could work in their business. 

Next, I wrote guides for the “next step” features. These are the things that build on the above three tasks:

  1. Setting up groups

  2. Using groups

Finally, I brought these together in a section on solving capacity problems in PlanRight. This used examples to show how you could use PlanRight to work through, and solve, capacity problems.

I also wrote a couple other smaller pages, such as a “cheat sheet” that gives an easy one-page summary of the main points from the above few pages.

Take a look at the whole guide.