When we talk to business leaders about IT power users, most don’t know whether they have any, or how to create them. Some have never heard the term.
If that sounds like you, that’s a problem – a big one. Because without power users, you won’t achieve full adoption of new technology throughout your organization or derive more than a fraction of its potential value. And you’ll miss crucial insights into new ways you might deploy your technology over time.
Power users are crucial to successfully leveraging technology to accelerate growth and achieve your goals. You need to build them, leverage them, and nurture them over time.
So let’s start at the beginning: What is an IT power user, exactly?
An IT power user is an expert user of an enterprise’s mission-critical software. Because they typically use the software daily as part of their regular job duties, they know more than just how to use it; they know all the little tips, tricks, and shortcuts, and they can solve most any problem that doesn’t require a technologist.
IT power users are critical to your success with an IT tool. They’re the ones who give the best feedback on what’s right and wrong about it. They help others up their game when learning to use the software. And they recommend new uses for it, extending its value within the enterprise.
That process begins with a well-designed training program designed to create analytical users. Training should be delivered in a way that makes sense for adult learners – in manageable pieces, each piece building on the one before it. That helps create power users by showing them the natural progress of how to get more from the new software and understand key dependencies between different software components.
Any good training program will have follow-up, maybe three months after the first training sequence ends. That’s when power users will begin to reveal themselves. They’ll be able to talk about the improvements on business processes the new software has led to, showing they’ve really grasped the tool and how it applies to their jobs.
Potential power users will have thoughts about how to improve the training. That’s the kind of feedback you need to improve your training for everyone.
They’re also the ones who will start recommending improvements to the technology itself. They’re finding perceived shortcomings – and that’s a good thing. Ordinary users just figure such flaws are part of the system and think there’s nothing to be done about it. Power users want to maximize the potential of the new software and will look for ways to improve it.
Once you’ve identified your power users, it’s time to empower them. Take their names to company executives and recommend advanced training for them. Also, be sure your power users are recognized as such throughout your organization. If their names appear in an email from a company executive, that will catch the eye of other employees, who might be motivated to follow a similar path.
To take maximum advantage of your power users, create a formal feedback loop structure. Form a group of power users, give that group a name, and make sure members meet with company trainers and IT staff every three months or so.
The meetings will allow your power users to give the IT team feedback on how they’re using your new technology, how they’d like to use it in the future, and what its perceived shortcomings are.
That information will prove vital as you look for ways to maximize value of your recently installed software and to extend usage across the enterprise. That’s why you mustn’t take that information – or its sources – for granted. Ensure that group members know what you’re doing with the information they give you: If they requested a change to the technology that isn’t practical right now, make sure they understand why and what you might be able to do instead.
When identified, nurtured, and empowered, power users are a gold mine of information and enthusiasm. The organizations having the most success using technology to drive change tend to be chock-full of these vital team members – because they make the effort to grow their own.
We’ll link here to “Training Your Staff To Master New Technology”