This is the first in a group of four articles detailing common application owner program challenges to understand and overcome.
It is important that the role and responsibilities of the app owner be clearly defined. See this article on the levels of application ownership and the common responsibilities often associated with each. Identifying the right person for the role can be a crucial factor in the success of an Application Owner program. If the role is that of an Application Monitor, little to no familiarity with the application may be necessary, whereas the role of Application Subject Matter Expert (SME) obviously requires an order of magnitude more involvement and familiarity. In some organizations, the application owner role is assigned to the individual who initiates bringing the application into the organization. This can be fine for some applications but a mismatch for others. So, while this can be an effective method of assignment, it isn’t going to be appropriate in every case.
Is training needed? Again, this depends on the application. Those applications that even offer training generally bring the application into a more significant class that requires a more significant application owner role. More complex applications generally require a subject matter expert, which will be relied upon more heavily in the update, test, and release process to confirm success in cases where someone without a good understanding of the application may not know what to test.
Ways to help application owners be more successful include implementing a clear set of responsibilities, investing in an App Owner management system to send reminders and simplify the collection of application details, and providing a support system where App Owners can collaborate and share best practices. Recognition can be key—give the application owner exposure where appropriate, such as identifying them by name in any announcements about the release of an update.
Juriba’s App Owner solution can not only support application owners but also ensure that the program itself is healthy by helping to ensure desired application coverage and providing dashboards and metrics around compliance and output of the effort. Without good visibility into what is being monitored and what recommendations are being realized by such monitoring, the true value of an application owner program cannot be achieved.
One pitfall to watch out for in executing an Application Owner program is to avoid asking too much of App Owners. This is a task and often not an official job or title, and so the majority of those with an App Owner responsibility have other more significant roles in the organization, which restricts the time that can be spent on this effort. An application monitor role does not require much effort, but if you increase their role to a more time-consuming one or assign the same people multiple applications, they can come to resent the task and take it less seriously.
Explain what it is that is expected and check in from time to time to ensure those assigned can handle what is being asked of them.
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