Helmuth Gümbel -- Senior Research Director, Managing Partner at Strategy Partners International -- asked an excellent question at the close of my Sapience2009 presentation on Tuesday. The presentation, titled “Knowledge as a Service,” described the KaaS concept in general and the SAP virtual helpdesk in particular. The helpdesk allows IT staff to get answers to technical and business process questions from senior SAP consultants in the cloud, on demand.
The helpdesk is especially helpful when you’re missing a key piece of knowledge, and that roadblock is preventing you from making progress in your business — but it may not justify spending thousands of dollars and waiting weeks to bring a consultant onsite.
Here a couple of the sample helpdesk questions I used in my presentation:
We would like to use the Capital Lease functionality delivered in the SAP Fixed Assets module. However, standard SAP doesn’t fit our model….
How to default profit center on billing document without Sales order?
So, as I wrapped up, Helmuth asked a question that essentially was: Do you take a customer’s question at face value?
What he was getting at is the fact that very often people don’t know the right question to ask. They don’t know what they don’t know. And they may not know what they need to know. So, here’s my answer to Helmuth:
When someone submits a question to the virtual helpdesk, it is reviewed to see which consultants on the helpdesk have been pre-qualified in that particular area. Then the consultant who takes the question will very often start by asking questions of his or her own -- probing the customer to make sure the right issue is being addressed. Finally, that consultant’s answer is quality-checked by an even more senior consultant before it is sent along to the customer.
We don’t simply jump in and provide answers to questions at face value -- answers that are technically correct, but which may also be irrelevant or, worse, send the customer down the wrong path.