How many Super Users are enough?

As a semi-retired bean counter I have always liked accounting jokes.

Q: How many accountants does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: What kind of answer did you have in mind?

When it comes to asking how many Super Users are needed that is no laughing matter for a Super User program lead.  As the answer is usually – well it depends.

Over the years I have seen recommended ratios that have been put forward, but usually they tend to focus on the maturity of the application functionality.  Meaning you need more Super Users post go-live (recommendations ranging from 1:10 thru 1:40) and you need less Super Users once the user are comfortable with stable functionality – ratios out to 1:100.  The problem with these types of recommendations is that they focus on the technology lifecycle of deploy and sustain – they don’t necessarily jive with the types of churn we usually see in the user base independent of technology change.  Think acquisitions, layoffs, promotions and so on.

Having the luxury of analyzing Billions of SAP user transactions and evaluating the performance and size of the best Super User programs, here are several factors that we think should be taken in account.

Three Recommendations for Super User Ratios

Active Users not Licensed Users:  Often we hear grand tales of large user populations but come to find that usually only 2 out of 3 users are concurrently active in any given 2 month period.  This means that if you build you Super User target on potential users you are setting yourself up for a bigger challenge that is likely not necessary.

Segment into Heavy versus Light:  It is not really economically possible for Super Users to serve every class of user, there are just some users that are more valuable in terms of time and usage.  We tend to classify users into two categories for any given business process – heavy users or light users.  We use a cutoff of 1.5% of an 8 hour workday, if the user spends more time than this we classify them as Heavy.

User Productivity drives Focus:  If a process is simple and, or has very few user problems regardless of population size, it doesn’t warrant additional super users. Put another way, you should be increasing your Super User headcount in areas where user performance is a real issue.  We have a user productivity calculation that takes into account many configuration and user performance factors that we use to right-size and justify super user recruitment.

Bringing it all together. We see that Super User programs that can achieve a 1:10 ratio of Heavy/Active users to Super Users can maintain and sustain high levels of user productivity.