Application SupportCIOGeneral ITIL DiscussionIT Outsourcing and ITILITIL V3 for Application Support

Critical Application Support Knowledge Becoming Extinct! Part 3

Loss of application knowledge represents a significant business risk and should be given the same consideration as the loss of any other critical business asset.

Many IT executives say, “We have application documentation.” What IT executives should be saying is, “We have institutionalized our critical application knowledge and it is readily available by anyone who needs it.” However, in most cases this is not the case.  In this context there is a great deal of difference between “Application Documentation” and “Application Knowledge.”

Application Documentation – Technical design and specifications

  • Created for developing the application, not supporting it.
  • Not organized in a way that makes specific content fast and easy to find
  • Badly out of date and reflects little of what the application looks like today
  • Current version is difficult to find and in most cases even more difficult to use
  • Does not reflect what lessons have been learned by the support SME’s (subject matter experts) over years of supporting the application
  • Written in “tech speak” and has very little use outside the IT organization – very little leverage with business users.

Application Knowledge is – What is in the employee’s head

  • Knowledge gained over years of supporting the application
  • Practical knowledge used in support of specific application functions, output and users
  • Knowledge of application trouble areas and what is necessary to fix reoccurring or intermittent problems quickly
  • Critical application processing routings and calculations
  • Personal trouble-shooting utilities or processes developed over the years that are not common knowledge within the IT department
  • Knowledge of critical application components and how they effect the application
  • In-depth knowledge of data structures, their content and how the data applies to the business function they support

Before any useful application support knowledge solution can be developed a prerequisite is an in-depth understanding of the application support environment and what is needed day-to-day by those who support the application. The following represent a small sampling of items that need to be addressed when developing any application knowledge solution:

  • What application knowledge content is most useful and relevant to those supporting the application
  • Where is knowledge-content found? In what form? Who knows?
  • Does some of this knowledge content already exist? Where?
  • Can specific knowledge content be accessed quickly and understood easily
  • Is it in a form that is easy to use
  • Do standard knowledge content templates exist that can be used across many applications
  • Can application knowledge be used by others outside IT Organization: Application Users, Business Analysts, Developers, and Executives?

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