Super Users in Action: support IT support!

by Laila Stancioff, Published in BPTrends in 2020

In previous articles we talked about three dimensions of the Super User role [1] that make this role an enabler of Continuous improvement in the company. We talked about (i) Knowledge Management, (ii) Internal documentation development and maintenance and (iii) training to the team, which is directly connected with both previous dimensions. The last dimension of the Super User’s role to look into is the Channel and Filter. This dimension is also quite broad, so let’s look at first into its bottom-up filter dimension.

The more users you have in a company, the more questions and issues you have. IT helpdesk feels it clearly. And here is one of the most simple ways of showing the added value of a Super User Network. IT receives complaints, logs them as issues, works one by one to find a resolution – and so many times have to be babysitting users who don’t actually know how to deal with the system. There are so many issues that are not real bugs – they are lack of training. These type of issues shouldn’t have gone to IT in the first place. Here is where the super users can provide a big support.

Just as a parenthesis to this topic, showing the value of the Super User role might be complicated because many of its benefits are not so easy to measure. But having statistics about IT support and comparing the number and types of issues before a Super User Network was implemented with after the company started having Super Users is a very good and “simple” way of showing the value-added of the Super User Network because the IT costs highly decrease. For more statistics on this dimension I would recommend reading the book Super User (R)evolution by Ginger Luthrell and Michael Doane [2].

Back to the topic, if a department has a Super User, and people are instructed to talk first to the Super User and then he is the one to contact IT, we are creating a first level of filtering that avoids waste of time on the IT side.

Supposing there is a real issue, the Super User makes the issue handling process more fluid. Many users simply don’t know how to explain their issue or their needs, and it is easier for someone that is in the same context of the person to understand what he meant by what he wrote. In other cases, the uses can explain the issue but are not good in providing enough information for IT, because they don’t even understand what is needed in terms of screenshots, information about the system, which steps were taken, how the system reacted, etc. So the Super User can more appropriately log in the issue and avoid long email chains just to clarify  what it is about and gather the appropriate information.

But there are also the issues that are not IT-related. In many cases there is a training issue: the person does not understand well the process or how to use the system. So the complaint about the system might not even be a real complaint, but a need for explanation, and then it all makes sense. Related to that are bugs which are created because people are not inputting data properly or are not following the steps the way they were defined. In this case, apart from logging the issue properly for IT, the Super User will train this person to avoid repeated mistakes.

Another way the Super User is supporting is by gathering similar issues. This is useful for IT, because it is easier to handle an issue if received summarized in one communication than if it comes in 15 different emails saying the same. But gathering the issues is also useful for the Super User himself, because it is a very important input for the training dimension of his role. The Super User is not responsible only for the onboarding training for new employees, but he also should provide refreshment training according to the team’s needs. By listening to everybody’s questions and issues, he can understand that there are certain concepts that are not clear or some information that should be again explained or explained more deeply. Also the Super User can identify flaws in the process. Maybe there are steps in the process where decisions have to be taken and the rules or the criteria are not clear and this has to be defined with the team and other involved parties. Or a certain step is made in the wrong place, and therefore everybody is creating the same type of bug. In this case part of the issue’s resolution is to adjust the process to avoid repeated recurrence.

As we can see, the Super User is a very important “filter” that both avoids waste of resources and supports the issue resolution both in a corrective and a preventive way. On the next article, we will see that the Super User is not only filtering issues, but also acting as a channel for ideas to reach the appropriate levels in the organizations, enabling their implementation.



[1] Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User role as a tool to progress in maturity in Business Process Management – a study case of Cabot Latvia. Master thesis, University of Latvia, 2017.


Laila Stancioff, Process-U Executive Director

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