Application champions vs. power users: Benefits of formalized roles
Many organizations are unsatisfied with the software they have invested in and feel that they were either sold more functionality than they received or they are only using a fraction features available. Usually there are one or two individuals that have been identified as ‘power users’ or the ‘go-to’ for each software application used by the organization. They are typically the main point of contact for the provider, the one who assigns and manages system access, and the information desk when users have issues or questions.
While these folks are a great asset to the organization, many times, they also have their “day job” and their expertise has been gained based upon when the software was implemented or when the baton was passed from a predecessor. These users are typically very curious, problem solvers, and have a passion to understand how things are supposed to work. However, very rarely are these users researching new functionality or features that the software has available with new releases, especially if it is outside their operational area of the business.
To solve this problem, organization should consider implementing an application champion program.
An application champion program formalizes the role that power users play and also provides structure, accountability, and a level of authority to their current role. In addition, there are many additional benefits that can be realized:
- Improved software utilization – Application champions should not only be responsible for the current state but also the future state of the software implementation. They should be working with the provider to understand new features and functionality available and mapping that to the needs of the business.
- Enhanced training – In addition to the new employee onboarding training process, application champions can take on the role of defining how new functionality can be communicated and how users should be trained on the new functionality available.
- Reduced software footprint and cost – The fact that you have a better understanding of the capabilities of the software investments in place will reduce the overall cost and footprint. When employees identify new software investments, the application champions should evaluate if the requirements can be accommodated by software already in place as well as determine if there are integration/development requirements.
Of course, there are additional benefits that come merely from the documentation, visibility and capability review that will inherently happen when ownership is given to these individuals. So, how do you get started? First thing is to inventory your software assets if you haven’t already, you can then assign your application champions and have them, at a high level, map the functionality and dependencies with other software in place. Next, form a committee where on a regular basis the group shares software changes/upgrades, evaluates new software requests, and helps to align the organizations software investments to the overall corporate strategy.