The ideal key user for procurement automation projects

Nominating a key user when implementing new software solutions in purchasing is essential to the success of the project. Procurement automation project: Why you need a key user explains what tasks key users perform and which roles they assume when supporting process automation in their department. But which team members are suitable for becoming key users and what requirements do they need to meet? This blog article sheds light on the question which employees make ideal key users for automation projects in procurement. 


Professional requirements of key users

Business knowledge and experience 

A good key user has extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to the business purpose, business goals and corporate alignment. A key user should act as a reliable representative of the purchasing department, if not the entire company.  

Methodological knowledge 

The key user should be familiar with all the procedures, principles and good practices of the purchasing department. An analytical mindset is beneficial as they need to be detail-oriented while understanding the bigger picture.  

Professional knowledge 

The key user must have a high level of professional competence and a clear understanding of processes in both their own and related areas. They must be very familiar with the tasks and business processes of their department. Often, operational buyers act as key users in process automation projects in purchasing because they have first-hand experience of the processes and workflows that need to be optimised and automated. They are experts in the enterprise’s existing systems and understand the challenges of the daily business. Therefore, they understand the users’ perspective, goals and problems.  

IT affinity  

The key user should have concrete skills in handling the software. Since he or she is going to be the core user of the digital automation solution, IT and technology skills are needed.  

 Understanding of the overall context  

To sum up, the ideal key user combines business knowledge, professional knowledge, methodological and IT skills. To support the implementation of an automation solution in purchasing, the ideal candidate should know the entire P2P process and not only certain steps. They should understand how the interfaces within cross-divisional processes function along the supply chain. For example this applies to the awareness of how purchasing interacts with goods receipt or accounts payable. In short, the ideal key user is interested in the overall connection of processes.  

Social skills of key users

Key users do not only undergo training through the software provider to test the software and provide feedback. They are also responsible for training other users and function as the main contact person for questions and problems.  

The ideal key user has 

  • didactic skills  
  • conflict skills  
  • empathy  
  • an interest in supporting and cooperating with team members  

Moreover, key users must be able to explain complex issues in an understandable manner. Communication skills are relevant when it comes to dealing with software providers, IT consultants and end users.  

Personal requirements of key users

The ideal key user has certain character traits that help them to meet the professional and social requirements of the role. Employees are suitable as key users when they are energetic and flexible. Most importantly, they should be open to change and innovation. By being open to how processes can be optimised, key users contribute to a smooth adoption of the digital automation tool. Key users need to be convinced of the value the automation software will add to the purchasing department.  

 All these personal characteristics, social skills and professional competences contribute to the key users being accepted and held in high esteem by teammates. The ideal key user is recognised as a knowledge carrier and competent contact person in his or her department and can therefore mediate between management, staff and the software provider.  

The right key user leads to a successful automation project in purchasing

To conclude, it is not only necessary to choose a key user, but it is also important to choose the right key user for a software project. The ideal key user combines a profound understanding of the business processes with IT affinity, didactic skills and an openness to innovation through automation. These competences ensure that the key user can meet all expectations and successfully support the automation project in purchasing.  

Pfleiderer Case Study

Learn how Pfleiderer successfully digitised its procurement through process automation.