By Terrie Walker, McKesson, 2015-2016 SAPinsight Leader Board Member.
Living in California, the drought really took its toll on my lawn and entire landscape. Left unattended, weeds grew, the grass turned brown and withered. Now that the drought has been lifted, it has taken an investment of much time and dollars to bring it back to life. From removing the weeds that took over, tilling the ground and planting new seed – to watering, fertilizing and maintaining my lawn. I’m watching it grow back into a lush green landscape that adds value not only to my home, but also to neighboring homes by improving its ‘curb appeal.’
Why do I share this story? Because over the years I’ve witnessed, many companies invest time and resources into building Super User teams to support projects. Some organizations have even grown these teams into longer-term sustainable business support, a project-ready team of people…a ‘virtual’ department of Super Users.
However, as a former Super User program leader, like my lawn during the drought, I watched as companies that once benefited from an organized team of support dwindle that support away with organizational changes and budget cuts. And the Super User team that once was looked to as a first line of support, valued by their end users, soon began to wither and decay. When that happened:
- The need for day to day support did not go away – and now, users are coming up with an unmaintained dead end as they struggle to locate help that once was automated and readily available.
- There remains a need for on-demand business support for new projects and integrations– only now, businesses need to take additional time – at a cost to the company – to find these said resources to onboard and train for post implementation support of their associates.
- And the Super Users themselves who were once marketed as a member of an organized network – are still Super Users, but their level of reach across the organization is now limited to those fortunate enough to know how to locate them. They are back to being Super Users by default instead of by design.
Like my neglected lawn, it’s not a pretty picture and gives the impression of neglect and lack of caring. Oh sure we used the excuse that “brown is the new gold” to make light of a hard situation, but at some point, the need will be strong enough to drive an awareness of what was lost and that change is needed. And to rebuild a neglected Super User team, companies will need to re-spend valuable time and resources.
How are Super User Teams like your lawn? Most Super Users bring value to the organization through their long tenure, technical skills and key business knowledge (strong roots). And organizations that recognize, maintain and promote this vital network of subject matter experts (SMEs), will see the benefits reflected through their entire landscape.
Super Users, like my lawn, require 3 basic things: A leader who promotes engagement across the organization (Sunlight), education and communication (Water) and recognition & marketing (Nutrients) to grow strong, flexible and sustainable through organizational changes. Having a maintained and organized network of Super Users means your business has a readily available pool of SMEs for testing of enhancements and ever-evolving tools and processes, training instructors, better productivity of end users and avoidance of calls to a support center with their ‘on-the-ground’ customer service. To me, that demonstrates a strong return on investment, or ‘curb appeal’ and a great foundation your business needs as it continues to grow and evolve.
Today, high employee turnover should be worrisome to employers. Simply consider the expense to recruit, interview, and train new employees. As the economy continues to improve and the job market grows, employees now have more options—meaning organizations have to work harder than ever to engage and retain top talent. Having engaged and educated employees who feel supported are key factors that aid in that retention. During organizational changes and budget cuts, I understand the need to ‘cut back’. But don’t leave vital programs like your Super User Network unattended to perish. Instead, make the investment to perhaps prune, but still maintain your Super User program, and with thoughtful consideration and care, it can quickly recover from times of ‘drought’ and have your organization looking great and well cared for once again.