Business Change: Champions Vs. Super Users

Posted by Leadent Solutions on August 23, 2013

With projects which deliver IT enabled business change it is often recognised that implementing the new technology, infrastructure or system is not the most difficult part. It is the business change which presents the greater challenge, particularly when introducing different ways of working and new business processes.

A key feature of a successful business change is when the project brings the business along with them for the journey. Regardless of the project’s delivery methodology, it is crucial that this business engagement starts early and grows throughout the project. The result is a greater sense of ownership in the solution and the avoidance of a sense of ‘them vs us’ between IT and the business.

In an ideal world, organisations would have a team(s) of dedicated business change resource. But this is often not the case, and business change is commonly overlooked or thought of too late in a project’s lifecycle. There is typically more focus on the IT delivery of systems and technology rather than consideration of the effort required to effect the business change and user adoption.

A more pragmatic approach is one which establishes a network of business change agents from within the business unit or teams who will be impacted by the change. It is typical to look for key ‘go-to’ people within local teams who will work with the central delivery team to share knowledge, hints and tips, and answer the ‘how do I?’ questions about the new system or processes. We can imagine those types of people whom we go to with those questions; they’re the person on your corridor that you pop round to ask a quick question, they’re the person whose extension number you know of-by-heart, and they’re the person you’d wish you’d spoken to hours ago as their one little tip could’ve saved you plenty of head scratching. In short; they’re just really helpful.

Once a project delivery team has identified these people (and hopefully it does), they may be referred to as Super Users or sometimes Champions. But for me, these are actually two very different roles which require different strengths and skill sets. If rolled into one, the project risks diluting the effectiveness of the business change network. Of course there may be exceptions where a good Super User could also make a good Champion, but these are the minority. Time should be spent defining these roles and engaging with the Senior Management of the change affected business unit or team to ensure they sign-up to supporting and providing these two different roles, and individuals to fill them, especially when these are to be fulfilled in addition to their ‘day job’

For me a Super User (see Power User, Star User) is someone who;

  • acts as a ‘point of contact’ and is a local expert in the functionality of the system or the steps of process,
  • they may have a technical (user) competency in IT systems and are quick to pick up the nuances of a system,
  • they are willing and eager to share their expertise with colleagues as they gain a sense of satisfaction from helping others, and
  • are likely to retain this role once the project has completed the delivery and its business change.


Whereas a Champion on the other hand, is someone who will;

  • act as an ambassador for the project and its business change,
  • be a team leader and ‘rally the troops’ when disseminating messages about the project and business change activities, and
  • be a strong communicator who can speak confidently about the reasons for the change and the benefits it will bring, and
  • will fulfill the role on a temporary basis upon the duration of the project or its local business change