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To help the wider business learn how to use software and have a point of contact that's NOT the IT team, we are looking to introduce power users. We hope that it will highlight issues that don't get reported and also build knowledge and proficiency around the company in an organic way.

Let's say we have capacity for 15 people to become 'Power users' of some sort when it comes to IT systems in general. We would like these people to act as both ambassadors and points of contact for the rest of the company, in terms of our main IT systems. They would be selected on their personality, how keen they are and IT proficiency (actually less important than we thought it might be).

They would be given extra training and support but also expected to commit to a small amount of extra work. There is only a very small budget for incentives perhaps twice a year (gift voucher? something along those lines), there would be no room for a pay rise.

How do you convince people to sign up to things like this AND get them to do it? They're basically going to be doing more work for the same money. When we ran a trial it was difficult to keep people on board, they either ignored communications or just said they hadn't had time to do xyz yet because their actual job is making them too busy.

Incentive wise, what can be offered that isn't financial? We thought about some motivational things such as making it part of personal development (ie; recognised by management) but I don't think this is enough to make people want to give up time from their already very busy days.

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    "They're basically going to be doing more work for the same money." So you expect them to work in there free time to do this? Else it seems unlikely they can do more work in the same amount of time. – Jeroen Sep 8 '16 at 11:31
  • Not in their free time. It's actually stuff that they are doing already like answering colleagues' questions about IT. The main time sink is user testing for new software developments, patches, etc. This is where we struggle. It's not possible for the IT team to replicate a real user using a system so we want representation from different teams to hopefully find the majority of problems before we go live with something. Beta testing in a live environment is not the desired outcome but has been what we've had to do up till now. – Syntax Error Sep 8 '16 at 11:35
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    I understand the position you are in (I am there). However you have to realise that this either means they can do less of there regular work, do that work with less quality or do the training/testing in there own time. Just make sure you communicate this well to the team what is expected of them, how many of there regular hours they can dedicate to it. For an incentive. Maybe it's worth checking to see if you can use the budget for charity. The charity in question would be decided by the power users. There might actually be some financial benifits for that as well. – Jeroen Sep 8 '16 at 12:40
  • @jbab8 So you're essentially asking how you get more out of your employees for the same money. Not that anyone ever asked this before. Maybe its time to push back against the small incentive budget and get a bigger one? – Magisch Sep 8 '16 at 13:22
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    "user testing for new software developments, patches, etc." Get a better core IT team, these things are fundamental to their role, easy to do, and mostly automatible. – Kilisi Sep 8 '16 at 13:33
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You mention in your comments that you are part of the core IT team.

It seems to me that the reason you are having trouble motivating these users is because your team is overreaching in their responsibilities. Given that you are an IT associate, I'm assuming these users don't report up through your direct IT management hierarchy? That means this work would be completely voluntary on top of their normal duties (which as you are seeing is a really hard sell to someone who is already busy).

The benefit of an ambassador program is self-apparent (we have something similar at my Enterprise) but this directive ultimately needs to come from the business leadership. Rather than try to have your IT team indirectly supervise these ambassador's themselves, why not try convincing their direct managers of the benefits of the program and allow them to manage it themselves? If you can get management buy-off, then they can pick the superusers that they feel are most appropriate and rearrange their existing duties as necessary.

My IT team stays relatively hands off with our ambassadors letting business assign and control direct responsibilities themselves but do set some high-level expectations which gives us what we need in the relationship. For instance, when filing trouble tickets against certain applications we ask that our ambassadors act as gate keepers to review any reported problem before filing a ticket. This helps us filter out clear user-error issues and free up IT application team time for more pressing issues (such as developing improvements to the same application). It is a win-win for both departments so we have come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.

TLDR - I would recommend getting your business team management on board and let them manage their part of the program themselves. Set IT expectations and allow business to police themselves to come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement.

  • I like this idea. Management are on board already but they have little involvement. I'm trying to get this off the ground again as it's always fell flat on its face. I will see if we can get our department heads to look at this and decrease their workloads accordingly. Thank you – Syntax Error Sep 12 '16 at 9:01
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Get the power users to buy in to the process. If they believe it in and how it will benefit the business they will be more likely to give of their 'free' time.

Invite them to meetings where the discussion centers around X problem. Tell them that they are there because management thinks that they will be able to help solve it and ask for their feedback. Once you have the feedback, USE IT! Giving people say in a process and showing that you are listening and respect them goes a long way.

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How do you convince people to sign up to things like this AND get them to do it?

Maybe a nice certificate for their cubicle saying something like "I am a POWER USER, ask me anything!" or such would do the trick? Mention them prominently in the company newsletter. Give them a preferred parking spot, or some other small perk. If the budget permits, give them a hat or t-shirt. It probably depends on the culture of helping in your company.

Here at stackexchange for example, folks are encouraged to help others and aren't paid for their efforts.

This site uses gamification (voting, points, badges, ranking) as a way to help induce people to contribute. You could look into doing the same at very little cost.

Award points for the best tips, or the most help. Have folks that have been helped by these power users vote for the "Power User of the Month". Award badges. Etc.

Often emphasizing the "helping" aspects of the role brings out the best in the helpers. And publicly recognizing their efforts can give them a sense of satisfaction. Do that well, and others will want to be part of the helping culture.

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In organizations I've been a part of success of programs like this would be contingent on resource availability. If you are expecting people to devote a couple hours per week to this then you have to make sure their other workload is decreased by that amount. Failure on this front will ensure that something is falling off of their plate and the odds are good that a voluntary non-departmental commitment will be the thing that falls off.

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