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Locating and searching electronic documents: a user study of supply publications in the United States Marine Corps

By Scott A. Stahl


MBA Professional ReportThis exploratory study assesses the usability of an online policy document system, specifically with company grade supply officers in the United States Marine Corps. Using common work scenarios, users were asked to search for specific policy documents. Their efforts to navigate through the system were recorded and analyzed to better understand areas in the system that posed challenges to supply officers' efforts at policy retrieval and understanding. The primary purpose of this study is to provide recommendations, based on the test findings, that will address opportunities to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the current electronic publication system. Based on this analysis, the second purpose of this study was to provide recommendations to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction with the electronic document system. Five participants were observed as they used electronic policy and regulatory documents related to financial management and property control functions. The participants were chosen because they represent the user population and are familiar with the electronic document system. Each participant conducted typical search and retrieval tasks using think-aloud protocols. Each session was videotaped, and participants were interviewed afterwards. In-depth analysis of the data indicates that participants are generally satisfied with the system, but significant opportunities exist to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. Most notable recommendations are: increase search capability, provide consolidated offering of content, allow personalization and portability, improve ability to see context/location within documents, create additional linking mechanisms, and migrate away from .pdf file format. Additional recommendations address the need for iterative testing and triangulation of problem areas to increase data reliability

Topics: Inventory control., Usability, supply, policy, electronic documents, effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction
Publisher: Monterey California. Naval Postgraduate School
Year: 2007
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