One step closer to user – Production Support (Part 2)

 

 

Ok Lets continue. If you missed the first part check here.

So far we talk about What is PS and what kind of qualities do you need to be successful in this field. This field standardized by ITIL certification. It will be handy if you are willing to build your career in this PS field. Very first day, when I had a tea with my manager, he advised me to complete ITIL certification for better career growth.

There around 4 levels of support role defined in ITIL as follows,

L1 (Level 1) Support:

Role: Software engineer, Support analyst

Responsibilities: Support ticket classification, Re-prioritization, User clarification, password reset, Response to user queries based on known error database. Ticket escalation to the next level of support.

L2 (level 2) Support:

Role: Sr. Software engineer, Technical Analyst, Functional consultant

Responsibilities: Issue analysis, Identification of bug and the workaround. Response to functional queries, Understanding & analysis of user requirement for minor enhancements.

L3 (level 3) Support:

Role: Technical Lead, Sr. Functional consultant

Responsibilities: Permanent bug fixes by doing root cause analysis, code changes. Regular ticket analysis of recurring issues can result in a decision of permanent fix as code change. Minor enhancements to enhance user experience and reducing clarification calls.

Functional Consultant: Resolving user’s functional queries, requirement gathering, coordination with the tech team.

L4 (Level 4) Support:

Product support through Vendor / OEM. L4 level deals with the issue which may be because of a fault in the associated product with the application e.g. Operating system or the application framework.

~ Even though this is a decade old industry you will see failures. The findings of the Fujitsu research illustrate why application support is so necessary:

• More than half of CIOs would not be able to show their chief financial officer that they know all the applications sitting on their IT infrastructure.

• Two-thirds of CIOs felt that their applications portfolio was only partially aligned to their business strategy or not at all.

• Only 39% of CIOs said they had the right strategy to manage their organization’s portfolio.

• Nearly two-thirds of CIOs could not provide the true cost of running applications in their business.

• 47% of CIOs said they did not have the resources to ensure maximum value from their applications.

• Half of CIOs said the level of duplication was moderate to “too much”.

(I’ll do share my personal experience in this sub-topic in a future post)

 

My Work experience so far

The role gave me experience in the following:

• Supporting various _______  applications and platforms used in the  ________ department

• Solving problems around breaks, data feeds, risk figures.

• Liaising between front office, product control, risk and strategy to deliver two essential tools for _______ data analysis.

• Migration projects, UAT, parallel testing, and regression testing

• Resolving urgent and immediate requests by various users in a vibrant and demanding environment

• Advanced use of EXCEL formulae.

• Team working, time management, communication and problem-solving skills were significantly enhanced.

• Exposure to the organizational structure of investment banks.

• Further understanding of financial processes and terms that affect our economy.

 

IF you have gone both of my posts, let me answer some FAQs to help you out from further googling.

What is future of Application/Production Support guy in IT industry? Last recession in 2008, most of the companies put on hold most of their planned development projects. But didn’t cut much of their budget for the support / maintenance work.

Is production support a good choice to start a career? Being a fresher, I  would strongly suggest you go for a development project. Because only in dev you can learn completely.This does not mean that you cant learn in production support, you can.. but the learning will be different – like UNIX related, application troubleshooting related etc.. which is NOT you look for something at this point in your career(As a fresher).
Also, remember moving from dev to production support will be very easy, but the reverse is CHALLENGING.

 

 

One step closer to user – Production Support (Part 1)

If you are familiar with the usual Software development project flow you would know, BA will get a bunch of requirements to be implemented from Client. End of implementation phase(s) there will be a day the software would launch to production environment through many sleepless nights for dev team.  What comes after that?

If the software is a long running business critical application, there will be support services which need to be provided at least  99% up time.  In the business world, this support phase known as the Production Support.  Throughout many years of molding, this phase standardized and I had a greate opportunity to experience the full phase of production support.

Let me share some what I have learned so far,  First of all some two jargons.

Production support – you are responsible for all types of issues like connectivity, infrastructure maintenance, components(not single application) functionality etc
Application support – you are responsible for issues specific to a particular application instead of the whole environment. You will have to work only when there is something wrong with your application.

Today, all of the complex business processes are supported by computer software and hardware. However, just as people are susceptible to making mistakes, software and hardware make errors, too. Therefore, every company must have an Application Support Team to ensure that these business applications run successfully and are error free.

Supporting of applications is critical for three quarters of organisations, but over half (53%) are struggling to maintain and manage their portfolios. Latest research from Fujitsu confirms the need for better asset management and qualified application support analysts.

From the outside, it might seem as if the application support group fixes errors when users complain. and not much more. I have heard a manager state that the support people basically put their fingers in a hole in the dam when a leak springs up. This perception is not correct. Actually the support staff provides a number of services, and has a number of responsibilities to ensure that applications remain in good working order.

With application support a dynamic career track with many opportunities.

What do application support analysts do?
They fix application and system problems, or any incident that is disrupting the application service that business users depend on. The job calls for both technical capability and business understanding. Crucially, applications are production, or live, issues and need immediate attention: an unflappable temperament is a must.

What does good communication consist of?
It goes without saying that application support analysts need excellent communication skills – but what exactly does that mean? First, of course, is the ability to express yourself well, verbally and on paper or email. You also need an acute understanding that other people within the business depend on your services, and know how to respond to that dependency. This may be via acknowledgement, updates and resolution.

Core tech competencies
An application support analyst needs to demonstrate competent IT literacy around applications and systems. Core technical areas are databases and SQL, and operating system platforms such as UNIX, especially Solaris, and Windows. Delivering live IT environments that enable the business every day is a challenging and dynamic career with many opportunities.

Six further competencies

These additional capabilities will ensure success in building a support analyst career:

• Technical knowledge

• Business awareness

• Cultural awareness

• Service awareness, preferably IT Infrastructure library (ITIL) certification

• Investigation and diagnostic skills (the Sherlock Holmes factor)

• Support tool knowledge

Six personal attributes

Application support staff, particularly those within blue chip companies, cite the following attributes as contributing to success:

• Communication skills and active listening

• Empathy with users

• Acceptance of ownership

• Patience and understanding

• Investigation & diagnostic skills (more of the Sherlock factor)

• Language skills (in some cases)

Let’s talk further in the second post.