End User Neglect, “They’ll Figure It Out” is not a strategy

Excerpt from The Super User (R)evolution.

End user neglect can extend to weeks, months, and sometimes years after go-live, during which the End Users do not, either individually or collectively, “figure it out”. Instead, they struggle at great cost to their companies and at great cost to their own well-being. And bad habits such as these get passed down to succeeding generations of users. Here are just some of the many barriers to success that get thrown at the “business process drivers” (aka end user):

  1. Frustration: Struggling End Users are unhappy. Unhappy users avoid the system as much as possible and often settle on workarounds. As we all know, what works around comes around.
  2. Help desk training issues: for each help desk call that could be avoided with better end-user competency, at least one hour of productivity is lost. Depending upon the nature of the call, business could also directly suffer (e.g. when the help desk call is relative to sales order entry).
  3. Blocked or decelerated business process fulfillment: Go ask Alice.
  4. Higher levels of transaction errors: leading to lost time for corrections, reconciliations, and re-dos.
  5. Disconnects between End Users and business process architects: resulting in less efficient business process designs and thus less efficient processes.
  6. A reduction of cross-functional supports: due to lack of horizontal collaboration, as struggling users are little help to each other.
  7. Failure to address End User attrition with on-going training of replacements. See problems 1 through 6 grow even worse. Repeat.
  8. No platform or channel for the voice of the End User to the powers that be. Processes continue to be tweaked or fully revised without the vote of the users and are put into production without prior warning.
  9. Skipping change management steps that should result from process changes leading to End User tendencies to return to “working the way we always have”.

What Ginger sees time and again in the field is a culture in which End Users exclaim “I don’t know why we do it this way”, and the response from business systems IT people and consultants is of the “this is just how it works” variety. Processes often prove to be clunky, inefficient, and often just plain stupid and, without effective collaboration between business process design people and the actual End Users, a bad situation becomes institutionalized.

What Michael sees time and again in the field is a penchant on the part of many companies to continue to add software to their existing portfolios in the hope that yet another shiny new toy will do the trick. One client once told him that his End Users didn’t know how to use the software, business leaders were unhappy with how it operated, and senior management was livid about the lack of usable reporting and intelligence. “So what’s your plan?” Michael asked. “We’re implementing CRM,” he was told.

Says Jon Reed: “Software glut is everywhere. Smart companies are disciplined about their applications portfolio but most companies just aren’t tuned to this and have redundant applications -like multiple sales order entry programs- that degrade the integrity of data and the efficacy of business challenges they are meant to surmount.”

All of these consequences have price tags that exceed the cost of End User training and could be completely avoided if your organization had a functional Super User network.


Additional resources abound on this topic of employee training. I’ll leave you with a quote from This article by SH!FT : “If you believe that training is expensive, it is because you do not know what ignorance costs. Companies that have the loyalty of their employees invest heavily in permanent training programs and promotion systems. “

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