IT ‘super users’ support technology integration in SMEs

Super Users: The IT integration heroes

IT ‘super users’ can help integrate new technology into a business more efficiently, speeding up return on investment.

As an IT manager, the implementation of new technology into your business is one of the biggest challenges you can face.

That could be new printers, accounting software, document management or Customer Relationship Management systems. 

Introducing new IT, whether hardware or software, is a testing time and can bring out the best – and worst – in your workmates.

But, while some may be resistant to change, others will rise to the occasion, and it’s these co-workers that can be recruited to help smooth the progress of transformational new technologies.

Sharing knowledge, smoothing integration

We all have colleagues who we think are unsung superheroes. By harnessing their skills and personal qualities, you can help make sure your businesses investment is a success and help them gain the recognition they deserve. 

They can be your ‘super users’.

‘Super users’ – also known as ‘key users’ or ‘tech reps’ - are typically IT enthusiasts who are technically-minded, eager, engaged, adaptable and good communicators. 

Though not members of the core IT team, they can be trained on new technologies ahead of them being introduced across the business.

They can then become an advocate for change and provide practical support for teammates in their department. 

By sharing their knowledge, ‘super users’ can help speed up the integration of new technology and provide valuable support to IT managers.

Ensuring efficiency and productivity

Tim Hall is Chief Technology Officer at one of the UK’s leading managed IT services and accounting solutions providers Blue Logic

He says: “With the increased knowledge that ‘super users’ have, they can effectively become an additional business IT support person, helping colleagues with standard IT tasks and advising them on best practice. 

“The ‘super user’ should be responsible for feeding back vital information to the IT manager about on-the-ground issues, but also own the IT processes in their business unit so that they can ensure efficiency and productivity.”

Overcoming cultural resistance

With ‘super users’ helping their colleagues buy-in to changes in a business, IT managers can minimise any potential slowdown in output during the transition. 

Sam Routledge, Chief Technology Officer at Softcat, the leading provider of IT infrastructure to corporate and public sectors and a FTSE 250 firm, has seen first-hand the impact that ‘super users’ can have.

He says: “It’s easy to forget that IT infrastructure encompasses hardware, software, network and your employees, so don’t let cultural resistance hold you back. 
“Driving change too much from the top could be highly counterproductive. Putting one person ‘officially’ in charge of digital transformation can also give the impression it’s ‘someone else’s problem’. 

“Change can be unsettling, and workers can understandably be apprehensive about any differences in role, focus or tasks, especially if it involves a technology element they don't necessarily understand. 

“By eliminating or toning down ‘traditional’ fixed hierarchies, achieving employee buy-in is likely to be a quicker and smoother process.

“This is where ‘super users’ play an important role.”

The sooner, the better

Recruiting ‘super users’ should be considered during the earliest stages of the procurement process

After all, they represent the end user and are best placed to identify any problems that need solving or processes that can be improved. 

That means recruiting them to support in the testing of potential solutions. 

Be candid about what technology you are planning to implement and why, including the benefits it will achieve for the business and its staff. 

Sam added: “It’s essential to allow ‘super users’ to play with and test these technologies in real-world scenarios so they can flag any potential issues which may arise further down the chain. 

“An experimental stage can also help ‘super users’ develop a set of guidelines, showing how employees can benefit most from new technologies in their day-to-day tasks and how to overcome common problems. 

“This can support senior management, who have a more macro-level view of business operations, driving digital transformation from the top down as well as the bottom up.”

Selecting ‘super users’

But what kind of person makes a good ‘super user’?

Though ‘super users’ should be pretty tech-savvy, there’s no hard-and-fast rule here, and what’s often more important is their character and outlook.

They should be confident, liked and respected by their workmates and willing to learn new skills.

It also helpful if they are experienced in the existing products and processes used by the organisation, so they can compare and contrast them with the relative benefits of any proposed new solution.

It’s a good idea to draw up a shortlist of potential candidates, including a first and second choice, as the person you initially identify may decide it’s not for them.

This is a voluntary role, after all, albeit one that should help raise their profile within the organisation.

It’s important to have excellent communication and be transparent about what the ‘super user’ role involves and how long it will last.

Those selected as ‘super users’ should have their normal workload reduced during the integration process.

That way, they feel they have time to properly commit to their new role and don’t have to prioritise their regular tasks for fear of being seen as underperforming.

While colleagues who are selected as ‘super users’ should find the responsibility rewarding, it’s important that they are also reassured that their extra effort will be recognised.

Recognition and rewards

Tim Hall from Blue Logic continued: “’Super users’ should be nominated by business unit managers and given the role as part of their appraisal plan, with targets that can lead to promotion.

“The completion of a beneficial system or process change should excite a good ‘super user’, but with the right framework in place this can count towards their professional development too.”

The occasional free lunch or team night out can also help maintain motivation.

With a team of motivated, knowledgeable and well-supported ‘super users’ in place, IT managers can help minimise the potential for new technology to slow down production while employees become accustomed to using it.

You’ll find that staff across the organisation are soon using the system to its full potential, helping maximise your return on investment as fast as possible.

Read more Brother Spark insight and opinion for IT managers.

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