Super User Programs. Numbers to live by.

My most common discussion around super user metrics for the past few years has seemed to revolve around what is the correct level of coverage – aka how many super users are enough?  This is an important question, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the key challenges faced when attempting to create and operate a successful super user program.  Coverage alone doesn’t address core management issues such as program sponsorship, super user selection or program performance.  The following are some key metrics that we have gleaned from analyzing the performance of super user programs over the past 2 years.  You might say these are numbers to live by.

5 for 5

Executive sponsorship is the most important priority for any super user program, without it you don’t get enough resources and as things change in your company strong sponsorship is needed to compete and survive against other programs.  So how do you get it?  No offence, but executives mostly don’t care about users but they do care about budgets.  I propose the following key metric for gaining sponsorship.  Go ask your executives for 5% of their power user’s time to be allocated towards supporting process peers and in return this formally managed super user program will produce a 5% improvement in user productivity - the 5 for 5 promise.  This is an elegant solution for several program musts – it provides a measurable program goal, it includes a business benefit, it gives you enough firepower to deliver and most importantly it is eminently doable!


Not an X-men sequel, but a target for super user selection or put another way a threshold for how much knowledge should be in your program.  What I am talking about is trying to have your super users on average consuming 2x the level of functionality versus the users they will support.  In layman’s terms you want to make sure that your super users know enough to adequately support their process peers.  Certifications, training, knowledge scoring systems are all great but to oversimplify I have found that when supers users are using twice as much functionality as the users they support results tend to be better.  Anything below 2x produces lower user productivity as the program cannot adequately deliver.  Anything higher than 3x in a well-stocked program tends to indicate that you don’t have enough application/business knowledge in your user base, a business risk that should be eliminated by focusing your program on educating users on available functionality.


Super user engagement is fundamental to a high performance program.  I tend to think of super user engagement in two ways.  First, the most obvious, are my super users coming to training sessions, are they responding to a program lead’s information requests and are they working with end-users to solve problems.  The second is more to do with are the super users actively using the latest version of the application they support.  I often see that this second type of engagement is overlooked, which is a problem.  It often reflects the fact that the stable of super users is stale, that you have people on “the list” but they don’t really have a connection anymore to the process they supposedly represent.  If 98% of your super users haven’t been active in the application they support in the past quarter I would question whether your program has the right people.  It might seem painful to let some super users go when you struggle to have enough, but it ultimately it hurts the program to count inactive users as part of the program.


Bringing it all together.  The 5 for 5 promise, 2x the level of consumption and 98% active usage – these are numbers to live by.  You might debate the exact targets, but focusing on a few select measures that communicate your goals, that keep an eye on the quality of your super users and that give you a good chance of cementing executive sponsorship sound like a strong foundation for super user success.