“Who am I and If So How Many?” is the title of a well-known book by Richard David Precht. But what does this title have to do with business departments? If you stop and think about how many different tasks, functions and roles are assumed by the business department in the course of a system launch, then it becomes clear very quickly.
In the following we’ll take a closer look at the role of Key User in business departments and we’ll explore the different requirements that it must meet. What is clear is that this definition can vary from company to company based on project organization as well as on project scope.
Key User as …
Here key users work closely with the responsible changer manager. For this role, social integration in the company stands out as a key requirement. The responsible individuals should possess a certain stature and recognition in the company to achieve the opinion leadership in the company that’s desirable for the project. Here communicative skill and empathy are also particularly important. In this context they ensure a steady flow of information inside the company and clear the way for effective preparation for training and the Go Live by disseminating arguments for decisions and analyzing training needs in the different work areas.
This is the classical role that key users play in system launches. Here their business knowledge and expertise in daily operations come to the fore. They work closely with project managers to ensure that the new solution reflects and integrates the company’s internal processes in the best possible way. But in addition to business competency, they should also have a genuine openness to change and be farsighted with respect to interdepartmental processes. Otherwise there is a real risk of a clash between conflicting expectations that a comprehensive system cannot meet.
Software testing is likewise an important area of work for key users. In this area they develop test scenarios, perform tests (integration, user acceptance and release tests) and create process documentation. This area requires an analytic approach, a real affinity for IT and strong organizational skills. To that end, they should be approached as early in the project as possible so that they can familiarize themselves with the new system and any necessary tools for test execution and documentation. Planning should include a well thought out onboarding program in the form of training programs conducted at the right time.
Despite training, information and documentation, the production launch will often be followed by all of the common user errors. The knowledge head start of the key users can enable such problems to be incorporated in the Hypercare phase and if possible, resolved in advance. When dealing with more deep seated problems, they will sometimes also handle ticket creation to the IT service desk to ensure that a clear description of the problem at hand is available.
They also, among other things, create change requests for the developer team, which will then be gradually integrated into the solution based on anticipated needs.
Here their business expertise as well as technical expertise is decisive.
Another common use of key users is as internal trainers in the company. Using the “train-the-trainer” method, the selected employees are trained as trainers who will handle the sharing of knowledge inside the company. Also, important here are empathy, interpersonal skills and pedagogical skills. Key users are also more adept in situations where the sensitivities and concerns of individual employees are at stake, thus allowing them to be more attuned and better prepared for them than external trainers.
Because key users are already involved in other key responsibilities before the Go Live, such as acceptance testing and process documentation, often it is not until after the production launch that they assume the role of trainer for follow-up trainings or the onboarding of new employees.
What are the general requirements? ?
Overall, as can already be seen from the roles and tasks, these workers will be taking on a number of new responsibilities that will continue beyond the Go Live. It is therefore necessary, first of all, to specify contractually the time period in which the employees in the project will be needed and then to give them adequate room so that they can fulfill their tasks.
In some projects it also makes sense to relieve the employee of their regular responsibilities for the length of the project, for example if they are responsible for training at multiple locations. In particular, the possible work areas should be discussed and the complexity of the job descriptions should be weighed.
In addition, they should be provided with sufficient support in the form of advanced training and workshops to perform their new roles and tasks both competently and confidently. The importance of valuing this special work should not be overlooked and it should be defined at the outset in the project team.
Why should you participate as an employee?
In taking on such tasks, employees have an opportunity to develop themselves both at a professional and personal level, develop new skills and form new contacts. I find that, especially in these Corona times, many employees also value the opportunity for new experiences despite the additional work and the time away from home. They learn to see their own company through another perspective, learn which locations are facing special challenges and how their own colleagues are approaching the new system.
We at Nagarro ES are available with our expertise to assist in developing an appropriate key user concept that is tailored to your project and we will work together with you to explore possibilities for application areas, recruiting and the applicable general requirements.