Key User: The enabler to successful software implementation

How to find the optimal key user for your project

The introduction of new software in companies is not a foregone conclusion. In addition to the technical side, employees must also always be brought along on the path to go-live. This is where the key user comes into play. We show you how he can support you in this challenge.

  • Software implementation is a major challenge for all companies
  • The key user supports as interface and influencer at the same time
  • Success through the triad of key users, general conditions and software providers
Illustration of the triad of key user, software and company framework conditions

If you want to introduce new processes or new software in your company, this does not work with an announcement “from above”. At least not sustainably. Because such decisions are often made without the employees who are then expected to use the corresponding tool on a daily basis – or who literally have to “pay the price”. This is a problem that often arises in the course of the digitalization of companies.

In order to implement a software successfully and purposefully, the use of a key user is of great value. He or she is a competent contact person, an influencer and a feedback channel to the management level at the same time. What they do, what they must be able to do, and how you can find the optimal key user for your challenge is what we will now show you.

What a key user does

When introducing new software, a key user takes on a central role. He or she supports you during implementation at both the technical and personal levels. This means that, as a representative of his or her department or specialist area, he or she is also responsible for taking the employees along with them on the path of software implementation. In principle, he is a kind of internal corporate influencer. Because part of his job is also to promote the new solution within the department.

Key user as corporate influencer in factory planning

In addition, he accompanies the implementation process from the concept phase to the running application in the company. The work of the key user therefore begins before the actual introduction, even during the development of the rollout strategy. Already in the analysis phase, he is part of the process to help formulate the relevant requirements for the new system. Subsequently, he supports you in the implementation of the project plan, carries out tests, takes over the training of the members of his team and supports all parties involved during the go-live.

The key user thus functions in both directions: Into the department and, as a feedback channel, out of the team. He forms the communicative interface between the company management and the area in which a new tool is to be introduced. In this way, feedback and optimizations quickly reach the right place. In order to fulfill this function successfully, employees with certain professional and personal characteristics are needed.

This makes an employee the optimal key user

Basically, a key user should have the appropriate expertise. A certain IT affinity is indispensable when it comes to introducing software or digital solutions. In addition, the social acceptance of the key user in his group is of great importance. It lays the foundation for trust in his competence. In order to be an ambassador for the department throughout the process, strong communication skills also play a crucial role.

If you take a closer look at the requirements for a key user, 2 areas stand out: professional and personal requirements.

On the technical side, the key user must already be known as a knowledge carrier in the planning department. He has knowledge of the entire planning process from concept to implementation. He could thus be described as a generalist with a high capacity for abstraction.

key user as project manager in the team

Personal requirements are just as important. Because a key user must always maintain an overview. About his team and the progress of the implementation of the new software. He must be open to new ideas in order to be able to credibly transfer his motivation to his team. An analytical and abstract way of thinking is an advantage. In addition, a key user must enjoy a high level of acceptance both within his department and with his superiors. In addition, there are typical skills of a project manager: commitment and the ability to work under pressure, strong organizational skills and a structured approach. Linguistic and didactic skills round off the personal requirements for a key user.

How to find the key user for your project

When searching for a key user, the listed requirements are decisive. The position in the company is less important. After all, the right key user may hold a managerial position, but he or she does not have to. The best way to illustrate the right selection is to use the following example:

The key user selection for plant planning of production sites

An employee who is solely responsible for the implementation of CAD drawings in the realization phase will not deal with the variant planning of a block layout in the early concept phase. However, since in factory planning all phases of planning have to work closely together, a candidate should have a basic understanding of all areas and also of the decisive interfaces. Key users tend to be generalists and are interested in the overall context. For them, it is particularly important to literally “take a step back” in order not to get lost in the details.

key user as generalist for factory planning

You see: Key users must be people who are interested in the big picture and think outside the box. You have to look for such people if you want to find the optimal key user for your project. So choose according to the professional and personal requirements and not based on the hierarchy of your company.

Support your key user with the right general conditions

As soon as you have found your key user, he can begin his task – as long as you support him with the necessary general conditions. First of all, the company must provide him with enough time for the challenge as a key user. Because if he has to fight for his time and hardly ever gets to do what he is supposed to do, he will not be successful. In addition, he must be able to concentrate fully on the software rollout. Also, give him the opportunity to build up additional competencies and to deal intensively with possible solutions.

Inhouse software training for planning team

On the side of the software to be introduced, it should convince through intuitive operation. Short-term basic training courses for other employees should be just as possible as targeted online training courses with methodological competence by the software provider. In order to be able to pass on the acquired competencies to its team, it also needs the possibility to conduct smaller in-house training courses itself.

The Key User as enabler

With the support of a key user, the implementation of new software in your company can proceed optimally. The triad of key user, general conditions and software provider is crucial here. If everything fits here, you have already laid the foundation for a successful software introduction.

Related Articles:

5 tips to be considered before and after purchasing planning software

6 principles to help your next planning project succeed

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Tino Riedel
Tino Riedel

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