Help 2.0 – Take Your Procurement Programs to the Next Level

July 31, 2014

Traditional help desk operations are generally reactive in nature, managing tickets and responding to system issues in order to address day-to-day procurement operations problems. But leading procurement organizations have discovered, with modest planning and investment, help desk operations can provide the application management support needed to advance adoption and increase the business impact of procurement programs.

Today, the lines between business process, system configuration, and core technical support have become increasingly blurred, especially with the prevalence of cloud platforms. Why can’t an invoice be submitted? How can I get an approval flow changed? I want to purchase X commodity and it’s not in the system. Your company’s ability to quickly resolve these kinds of application management issues, and the user experiences associated with them, is the key to building a better procurement brand within your enterprise.

At Shelby, we have had considerable success in helping clients advance their procurement objectives by expanding the scope of help desk operations to include application management support. Both mature and evolving program owners have benefitted greatly.

Mature Program Owners: These clients have S2P platforms in place, have a decent adoption rate, and use their procurement platform the way it was designed. They are also beginning to identify areas where they can increase their footprint (expand business units or commodities), further improve processes (start leveraging electronic invoicing or dynamic discounting), fully connect up and downstream capabilities (tie sourcing and contracts to procurement spend). Mature program owners understand that in order to continue to evolve the platform, they need to spend more time with internal resources to understand priorities, requirements, and ways to meet those requirements. Oftentimes, this means taking the internal Business Analytics (BA) resources and leveraging them for “value-add” work, as opposed to performing routine maintenance – answering tickets or responding to individual user questions.

Evolving Program Owners: On the flip side, we often see clients in the beginning of their S2P evolution. They are just starting to understand what a steady state environment might look like along with the resources required to maintain that steady state. Sometimes, we see clients who have fallen into the trap where the resources are occupied with answering tickets, taking their focus away from adoption, core implementation, and rollout activities. A lack of a post implementation or steady state support program can lead to negative experiences, which can have larger impacts to the perception of the program overall.

So whether you have a mature program or are just starting out, here are some things to consider when thinking about what it takes to keep running at optimum levels:

• Resources: Consider how you want to leverage your internal resources and where their skills are best utilized: should they be fielding questions about access, business rules, and approvers or are they better spent engaging your customers to improve the experience?

• Scope: Steady state support almost always goes beyond core technical support. It invariably involves business process support as well, requiring a breadth of knowledge about the platform, its components, and drivers.

• Purpose: Solve the political ownership conundrum. Is this is a technical help desk? Or is it business support? Usually the definition is somewhere in between, making the notion of ownership difficult to define – IT or business. Remember this is not just technical support, and it shouldn’t be treated as such – it is application management and support. The words might seem like semantics, but the implications are major – from how it is resourced, to who pays for it, and who owns its success.

• Metrics: Tracking and measurement are key. Understanding your steady state issues will help target future improvements or training needs. Without a formal structure in place, organizations can sometimes lose sight of both the volume and nature of the support requirements.

In today’s business environment, strategy and execution are both essential to program success. Expanding the role and capabilities of your help desk operations could provide the glue you need to take procurement to the next level. For more information about transforming help desk operations to advance the adoption and impact of your procurement programs contact us at

Kelly Patterson
Manager, Procurement Optimization
The Shelby Group