Application FolderMy official job title states that I am a systems specialist and have commonly been referred to as an infrastructure engineer, yet my primary role is an application owner.  I spent some time researching how to be an application owner and tried to pinpoint specifics on what an application owner actually does.  It’s important to take the time and research your role in order to understand the scope of your responsibilities.  Some benefits in researching your role include the discovery of similar open positions, enlightenment on your skill-set, depth in job requirements, and even a sense of worth and pride.  Mentally, for me, finding other application owners and reading generalized, and even detailed, role requirements made me feel alot more confident and valuable in my new role.

First off, what is an application owner?   High level, an application owner holds ultimate responsibility for a specific service or application. They are accountable for incidents, problems, and changes that impact the service or application and they need to understand system capacity and capabilities.  They are also required to research and provide management with recommendations toward business objectives or deliverables.  In some cases they are commonly referred to as subject matter experts (SME) but don’t be fooled by the technical complexity.  An application owner needs to know how to communicate to all levels of management, put a face to their application, and politically support customers or end users.

How to be an application owner?  From my perspective, and I’m learning every day mind you, you need to form a tight vendor relationship with your application.  Become known to them to the point where you’re most likely not just another customer.  Obviously this doesn’t apply if your application was built in-house by your own development team and your company may or may not be a large dollar spender with that specific vendor but you have to try regardless.  In addition to the responsibilities listed above, I have gone out of my way, and even wish I had more time, to browse and participate in vendor user forums and locate and participate in related application communities.  One of the first places to look is on Linked-In.  Can’t find a community or group for your app?  Start one! Just recently I have adopted social networking and in a very short time I have expanded my network greatly.  When it comes to being an application owner, think outside the box and think forward.  You know the depth and capabilities of the application more than the business owner/sponsor and end user.  Conduct yourself as a business professional because you’re no longer the person who sits in a cube coding all day.  You are the face of the application and you need to get out in front of the business and help guide and support them.

In closing, I’ll list some more specific common details on how to be an application owner but don’t miss out on vendor relationships and community involvement as they are crucial to your success and reputation.  The application owner is a special role where you have the ability to brand yourself and establish the relationships that could greatly increase your chances in career success.

  • Stay up to date as much as possible on product announcements.
  • Know vendor plans for 6 months to a year down the road so you can plan accordingly.
  • Manage day-to-day support issues.  Work internally and externally to resolve them.
  • Document, perform, and cross-train common procedures or maintenance activities.
  • Form and utilize a communication strategy to keep critical users and management informed.
  • Coordinate and often implement changes to the system.
  • On a scheduled basis, review system operations and services to insure they are functioning as intended.
  • Conduct periodic reviews of system data for integrity purposes.
  • Quarterly review environment documentation and update as needed.
  • Provide a process for provisioning and gaining access to the application.
  • Get involved in end user training as it can help you identify gaps in the application as well as quick or complex usability opportunities.