by Laila Stancioff, Published in BPTrends on December 2018
by Laila Stancioff, Published in BPTrends on December 2018
Process professionals face big challenges not only when adopting the Process approach on the company, but also when working on having it “going on by itself”. Sometimes it may seem that the Business Process Office and process professionals will always have to be pushing the organization to think on the process and improve it. But what is missing? Why do companies fall on the Process Management Gap  year after year ? There are certainly many answers to this question, but here is one: we did not manage to change people’s mindset, because people and culture are the most difficult thing to deal with. By analyzing these last years State of the Industry Reports and surveys done in different continents about BPM in the companies, you can see that only a very small portion of the initiatives in the companies include actions to deal with People and Culture . However, it is not enough to create in the company the Process Management “Structure”: roles, flowcharts, process performance metrics, governance, etc. All of this is top-down, but unless you are able to reach the last individual, you will have to continue pushing it hard for a while.
This is the first of a series of columns that will deal in more detail with a new concept of the Super User role: a process and knowledge specialist located in each department, that works as the bridge of the BPM structure and people. We will start by defining this role, its responsibilities and requirements to choose a Super User. On next articles, we will see a study case of Cabot Latvia, a company which actually has this role established, and that can see its impact on the various departments which have it. Then different aspects of the Super User impact in the organization will be described, together with what should the company do to enable the effective work of its Super Users.
It is not a Process Owner either.
“A Super User is a person from the department who has a profound understanding of internal processes and is responsible for knowledge management inside of the department.”
A Key User, or Power User, is someone that knows very well the system and is assigned to participate on a certain IT project. This person does what the project requires, and then goes back to normal work. The Super User is a permanent role in the organization and is dedicated not only to a project. It is not enough for the Super User to know a lot about the system and work on solving one problem – he knows very well also the human side of the process, looks for continuous improvement and does the knowledge management of the department he is in. At the same time, he is not a Process Owner because he does not necessarily have deep knowledge of all the process: he understands the process end-to-end but has a deeper knowledge of the part his department executes. This may sound as limited to the function, but it is far from that. Being inserted in the functional structure, the Super User has an on-the-job knowledge of the process he himself is executing on daily basis. Additionally, he knows his own team, and therefore knows its needs and can discover the best way to lead his colleagues through change.
“The mission of the Super User is to put processes in service of the team” . Unfortunately, so many people see processes as flowcharts and procedures, or as extra work that needs to be performed to satisfy some project or the Process Office. In reality, the process is their everyday work, and this understanding should bring value to the business, but also to each employee, facilitating their job. As we will see on the next articles, this role complements the one of the Process Owner, and of the Business Process Office, dealing with aspects that are out of their reach.
The main responsibilities of a Super User include in first place to work in process improvement cooperating with other super users, the process owners (usually defined by cross-functional process) and the Business Process Office. This includes capturing improvement opportunities and making the change management within the team. Secondly, the Super Users creates and maintains internal documentation as support material for on-the-job training. The key on this is to have all internal documentation structured on a process view, so that people develop process thinking through each training. Since the Super User is involved both in the changes to the process and in the training and documentation development, it is natural that he deals with all the knowledge management within his/her team.
Requirements for a good Super User
Having a Super User that really fulfils its mission is not so simple, because there are many important characteristics, that should exist on this person:
Good knowledge of the team’s daily routines: this is required both for giving valuable input for the process owner and for supporting the team. Additionally, to make a good knowledge management you need to know what information you team needs, when, in which format and when it should be updated.
Self-motivation: the Super User should enjoy finding solutions, understanding the reason behind each activity, analyzing and sharing information. This stimulates the colleagues to also look for solutions to the problems, creating an atmosphere of continuous improvement on the department.
Interpersonal skills: communicative, forthcoming, and open, ready to listen and adapt to different situations and people. The Super User is actually coaching each person, adapting the message to each individual. There is no use on a Super User that knows a lot of the system but does not deal with people, or that finds many solutions but does not hear to other people’s ideas or share his discoveries with the team with enthusiasm.
Adopting the Super User role is definitely a step towards growth in Maturity in BPM. On next articles we will see how this happens in practice.
Harmon, P. (2011). The Process Management Gap. BPTrends volume 9, number 21, december 13, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.bptrends.com/the-process-management-gap/ on October 22nd
Harmon, P. & Wolf, C. (2014). The State of the BPM Market – 2014, BPTrends. Retrieved from http://www.bptrends.com/bpt/wp-content/uploads/BPTrends-State-of-BPM-Survey-Report.pdf on 2017 April 1st.
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. https://dspace.lu.lv/dspace/handle/7/36320
Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M., Kuzņecova, O. The Role of the Super User in Achieving Business Process Management Maturity. Information Technology and Management Science. December 2017, vol. 20, pp. 74–78. https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/itms/20/1/article-p74.xml ©2017.
Laila Stancioff, Process-U Executive Director