Super User Role Is Key To Post Implementation


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Super users are key components of the ERP support infrastructure

Super User Role Is Key To Post Implementation

  1. 1. Research Publication Date: 4 April 2006 ID Number: G00138658 Super User Role Is Key to Post-Implementation Support of ERP Systems Pat Phelan Super users are key components of the ERP support infrastructure. In addition to being on the front line with end users, they also serve as liaisons between business and IT organizations, enabling IT organizations to focus on more-technical aspects of system support. © 2006 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner's research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.
  2. 2. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The role of super user is important in providing high-quality ERP support. Defining the job responsibilities, staffing the role with the right type of and skilled personnel, and clearly communicating the role to business units and the IT organization are required to enhance the overall perception of ERP success. ANALYSIS An ERP implementation is a major investment. Often, it is executed by a project team that combines IT and business representatives, and is augmented with external experts from vendors and systems integrators (SIs). However, once the ERP applications are in place, the project team is dissolved, and the business users go back to their regular jobs. As a result, there is little business involvement in the ongoing management of ERP applications. Without this involvement, there is a risk that the ERP applications stay "static" and do not evolve to meet the needs of the business, so all that huge effort might be wasted or suboptimized. The most common alternative for ongoing ERP success is using "super users" — people who bridge the IT/business divide to ensure that the ERP applications evolve to meet the needs of the business and maximize the return on investment. Being on the front line, a super user's role is more important than just assisting end users with basic navigation questions, and quickly addressing process and system use problems. Super users, or power users in some organizations, are the most common conduit between business and IT organizations. They provide feedback on such things as how the system is being used, what the issues are and what the training will be for new users. The result is greater end-user acceptance and satisfaction, and IT organizations are able to focus on more-technical aspects of system support. Role of Super Users Super users know the business and are the "go to" people to answer system functionality and business process questions. They understand the process areas and how their assigned departments function. They further understand how the system has been implemented to support the business. Super users can provide immediate responses to end-user requests for business process help, basic system navigation questions, and other "how to" or "I can't get it to work" issues. They may assist with training end users on business processes and system use. Super users also troubleshoot ERP-related problems. They work with the IT organization by filtering end-user requests and passing along to the ERP help desk only those issues that the IT organization should be aware of as it tunes or enhances the system, as well as true problems that need some type of fix or resolution from a system perspective. When errors arise or a system issue occurs, super users are typically in the best position to translate functional business requirements into technical requirements and specifications. Having an understanding of the business needs, how systems have been configured, what the applications' limitations are and how applications may be changed is a tremendous help when assessing the issues and defining solutions for them. Super users must stay abreast of vendor product strategies and help plan the company's upgrade strategies by identifying the business benefits available in new software releases. (IT organizations will focus on the technology side of things.) This is crucial to move the ERP applications forward. Super users also identify changes in the business environment that may affect the ERP applications and work with the IT organization to plan the changes. An example of Publication Date: 4 April 2006/ID Number: G00138658 Page 2 of 5 © 2006 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
  3. 3. this is if the company moves into a new market or considers an acquisition. The super user would assist in assessing how the change would affect the company's use of the ERP applications. By working closely with end users, super users can spot trends in terms of need for additional training or changes that would improve the end-user training curriculum. They are also well- positioned to identify process changes or configuration changes that could improve how the system supports the business. This is especially important in light of the service-oriented architecture (SOA) changes that are coming to ERP applications. Superior knowledge of the business will position super users to add tremendous value to business process assessment and design of SOA initiatives. Super users belong to the business area and physically reside with the end users being supported, with a dotted-line relationship to the ERP competency center (IT support group). To be most effective, super users should be immediately accessible by the end users and valued members of competency center decisions and tasks. Furthermore, super users must have credibility with end users and the IT organization. Credibility can most effectively be earned by working with the competency center on planning and executing system changes and upgrades, as well as assisting with troubleshooting problems. An organization may have several super users. Factors that influence the number of super users include geographical representation (often at least one super user from each major region), business unit representation (representing the different parts of the business in a diversified environment) and process area coverage (for example, HR, finance and manufacturing). Preparing Super Users for Success When ERP is first deployed, super users should prepare for their new role by participating in the implementation. Having input into system design and hands-on knowledge of the system will build credibility with the end users. Participating in unit and integration tests will provide an intimate knowledge of the strengths, limitations and work-arounds that are a part of the new system. As upgrades are deployed, super users will: • Leverage their experience by assisting end users in understanding the options and alternatives that are available as a result of the new software release. • Translate the options and alternatives into IT terms. • Assist with implementing the upgrade and presenting it to the user community. • Contribute to ongoing business process development. • Work closely with the IT organization to determine what system configuration is needed to support the new or changed process. For new ERP implementations, prior to going live, organizations should formalize the position and train a force of super users, which can be difficult to achieve. To aid in this process, organizations need to: • Understand that the super user role is important. • Secure funding for the position. • Include a role description, initial and ongoing training requirements, reporting lines and retention incentives, which will provide the staffing guidelines and improve the likelihood of assigning appropriate personnel. Publication Date: 4 April 2006/ID Number: G00138658 Page 3 of 5 © 2006 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
  4. 4. • Staff the position with highly capable resources. • Include the super user in ERP competence center activities, such as system change planning, testing and problem resolution. What Can Go Wrong? Although super users deserve praise for the key roles they play on the front line with end users and as liaisons/translators to IT organizations, things can go horribly wrong. When super users are inadequately trained on the ERP system or have insufficient knowledge of the business and its processes, they will not be able to provide top-quality service and will not earn the credibility that is key to success with end users and IT organizations. A super user who is unwilling to cooperate and communicate with IT, or one who fails to participate in competence center tasks, will undermine the success of the ERP system. When a competitive or confrontational relationship forms between business units and the IT organization, and the super user is not a leader in minimizing the conflict, or worse yet, is a cause of the conflict, overall end-user acceptance and perceived success of the system can drop dramatically. Frequent super user turnover also can have a negative impact because a drop in service occurs while the new super user learns the job. When super user turnover occurs and the new super user does not have the benefit of participating in the ERP implementation, there is risk that the high quality of support enjoyed by end users and the knowledge-based relationship that the super user enjoyed with the IT organization will cease. Without the understanding that comes from being an intimate part of the implementation, the super user will merely function as a funneling mechanism for the ERP help desk and could end up being a bottleneck in terms of system support. To provide a new super user with a solid starting point as he or she gets immersed in the new role, there needs to be good system and process documentation and a well-defined training process for preparing the super user to support the ERP system users. Having another person in the departments supported by each super user trained as a backup will also help to minimize the risk of knowledge loss and offer coverage when the super user is ill or out of the office. Mitigation strategies for super user risks should be thought out prior to system implementation. These may include tactics such as: • Certification of new super users via training and testing • Rotation of super users through the ERP competence center as part of team-building exercises and ERP governance mechanisms to ensure super user participation and cooperation in IT activities, and help maintain credibility • Incentives to retain super users in their roles • Selection of appropriate personnel for the super user role • Informed selection process based on competencies desired and traits that will make the super user successful, rather than just randomly picking someone from the department Key Facts Super users serve a critical role in providing high-quality ERP support. It can be difficult to identify and prepare super users for the role. The role must be formally planned for and arranged prior to the ERP system going live. The plans should include steps for rotating the super user into the role Publication Date: 4 April 2006/ID Number: G00138658 Page 4 of 5 © 2006 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
  5. 5. and then back into the organization after a prescribed time so they can leverage their ERP knowledge. REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS Corporate Headquarters 56 Top Gallant Road Stamford, CT 06902-7700 U.S.A. +1 203 964 0096 European Headquarters Tamesis The Glanty Egham Surrey, TW20 9AW UNITED KINGDOM +44 1784 431611 Asia/Pacific Headquarters Gartner Australasia Pty. Ltd. Level 9, 141 Walker Street North Sydney New South Wales 2060 AUSTRALIA +61 2 9459 4600 Japan Headquarters Gartner Japan Ltd. Aobadai Hills, 6F 7-7, Aobadai, 4-chome Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042 JAPAN +81 3 3481 3670 Latin America Headquarters Gartner do Brazil Av. das Nações Unidas, 12551 9° andar—World Trade Center 04578-903—São Paulo SP BRAZIL +55 11 3443 1509 Publication Date: 4 April 2006/ID Number: G00138658 Page 5 of 5 © 2006 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.