The Super User Role: An Extended Concept

Process professionals face big challenges not only when adopting the Process approach but also when it is in place. . Sometimes it may seem that the Business Process Office and process professionals will always have to focus on improving it. But what is missing? Why do companies fall on the Process Management Gap year after year? There are many answers to this question, but here is one: we didn’t change the mindset of workers, because people and culture are the most difficult things to deal with. By analyzing last year’s state of the Industry reports and surveys world-wide, on BPM, you can see that only a very small portion of the initiatives include actions that deal with People and Culture. However, it is not enough to create Process Management “Structure” roles involving, flowcharts, process performance metrics, governance, etc., You need to deal with the individuals performing in the system.

This is the first of a series of articles that will detail a new concept—that of the Super User role, a process and knowledge specialist located in each department who works as the liaison between the BPM structure and people who work in it. We will start by defining this role, the responsibilities and requirements of a Super User. Future articles, we will present a case study of a company in which this role has been established and its impact on the various departments.

A Super user is not a Key User

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 who is very familiar with the system and has been assigned to oversees a specific IT project. This person fulfills the project requirements, and then resumes his/her position. The Super User is a permanent role in the organization and also oversees continuous improvement and the knowledge management of the department. But the Super-user is not a Process Owner but has in-depth knowledge of the entire process most particularly of the part his department executes. Furteher, he knows his own team, and knows its needs and can 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 everyday work that should bring value to the business to each employee. Future articles will also make clear that this role complements that of the Process Owner and the Business Process Office.

Super User responsibilities

The main responsibilities of a Super User include process improvement and cooperating with other super users, the process owners and the Business Process Office. This includes identifying improvement opportunities and change management within the team. Second, the Super User creates and maintains internal documentation as support material for on-the-job training. The key here is to have all internal documentation structured on a process view, so that people develop process thinking. Since the Super User is involved both in changes to the process and in training and documentation development, it is natural that he/she 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 this person needs to possess.

  • Thorough knowledge of the team’s daily routines to provide input to the process owner and to support the team. Additionally, to create good knowledge management he/she needs to know what information the 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 encourages colleagues to seek solutions to problems, creating an atmosphere of continuous improvement in the department.
  • Interpersonal skills, including well-honed communication skills. The Super User coaches each person on the team and adapts the message to each individual.

There is little use for a Super User who knows the system but does not deal well with people, or one who finds solutions but does not listen to other ideas or share enthusiastically his/her discoveries with the team.

Bibliography

  1. Harmon, P. (2011). The Process Management Gap. BPTrends volume 9, number 21, december 13, 2011. Retrieved from https://bptrends.info/the-process-management-gap/ on October 22nd 2016.
  2. Harmon, P. & Wolf, C. (2014). The State of the BPM Market – 2014, BPTrends. Retrieved from https://bptrends.info/wp-content/uploads/BPTrends-State-of-BPM-Survey-Report.pdf on 2017 April 1st.
  3. 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
  4. 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 Māra Pesoa

Laila Māra Pesoa is a process and knowledge management expert with a focus on organizational learning and continuous improvement. Having started as CAPM certified by PMI (Project Management Institute) and graduated in Business Administration in lbmec Business School, Laila developed for her final Bachelor’s project the Model BPM 6×5 (BPM 6 by 5: a self-assessment model to measure and develop action plans for the company to grow in Maturity in Business Process Management (BPM)). However, her focus has gone beyond structuring the company’s processes. By combining concepts of BPM, Knowledge Management, and Project Management, she works to enable the company’s growth in Maturity in Business Process Management by developing on people a knowledge-sharing and process-oriented mindset to enable and strengthen a Continuous Improvement culture. This approach has led to the creation of the consulting firm Process-U (Process-u.com). Her Master’s studies at the University of Latvia in Strategic management & Leadership concluded with a Master’s thesis proposing the use of the Super User role (both process and knowledge specialist) to enable the company’s growth in maturity in Business Process Management. Now Laila is an ambassador of the Super User concept, and part of the Leader Board of SunSource (https://www.sunsource.io/), a community dedicated to Super Users and their leaders. This goes hand-in-hand with her experience in systems development. In Cabot Corporation, Laila had a key role in the upgrade of the company’s ERP system by supporting testing, progress follow-up, quality control of testing evidence, and improvement of testing scripts master for all company’s process areas. Laila has led projects both in non-governmental associations and companies, in Brazil and Latvia, on National, European (Erasmus+ projects), and Global levels. She is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Latvian.
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