Recruiting Super Users: Volunteers or Voluntold?

By Gus Lopes HollyFrontier
2015-2016 SAPinsight Leader Board Member 

There are pros and cons to “how” you recruit Super Users to join your company’s Super User Program. You can have SUs nominated by their direct managers, or you can accept self-nominations and select from that pool of candidates. I would like to try and have an objective look into the two most common approaches to Super Users recruitment and their pros and cons:

    1. Super Users are nominated by their direct managers

      This is the most traditional way of selecting Super Users. Managers, directors, VPs or executives are consulted about who on their teams would be most proficient in supporting end users, delivering training, recommending process improvements or performing many of all other Super User activities. This is quite OK and can expedite the process when there is the need to rapidly build a SU team or the company culture is more favorable to top-down initiatives.

      One example is when an enterprise project needs additional support (and needs it NOW) or when a tight timeline demands quick action. Following this approach will also add the benefit of instant managers’ buy-in, after all THEY are the ones making this very important decision. But let us list some of the pros and cons and try to have an objective view of this approach:

      Pros:

      • Expedites the selection process
      • Creates an opportunity to involve management early on
      • Makes it easier to get managers buy-in

Cons::

    • Some Super Users may feel they are being “voluntold”
    • As a Super User leader you are in fact delegating an important part of the process
    • The level of preparation to engage managers may be the same or higher than engaging the Super Users
  1. Super Users themselves volunteer to be part of the program

    This can be considered a more modern approach. One of the first steps is to INVITE Super Users. This must be done within an environment where they can truly say NO if they feel inclined to do so. It is crucial to present the program as a volunteer program in search of the right individuals, and explain all the steps that will be taken before they officially become Super Users. This approach demands more planning and will add another layer of marketing needs to the program. For example a Super User leader looking for true volunteers might need to run two sets of presentations during the formation phase of the program, one to the Super Users themselves and another to their direct managers. It is also extremely important to display transparency and yet avoid any possible after-taste if conflicting interests are presented. What do you do when a potential Super User has all they need to succeed in the program but their managers do not think they are a good fit?  (This in itself is enough for an entire other blog). So let us again try to be as objective as possible and look at pros and cons:

    Pros:

      • The program starts off with motivated true volunteers (vs. having some people that were “voluntold”)
      • The SU leader will need to present the program to a larger group. This can be very positive since all presentations about the program are “marketing” opportunities.

    Cons:

      • Depends on an more open company culture (Bottom-up), where Super User leaders have direct access to any potential Super User
      • Demands careful planning and strong executive support
      • It is a somewhat lengthier and slower selection process

“What approach have you used before? What were your impressions? I would love to hear from you on this subject!”