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Application owner: levels of responsibility

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Application Owner sounds like a pretty important role—and in many organizations, it is. However, the responsibilities of an application owner vary significantly, with a range of responsibilities that may require just minutes per month or it may mean regular demands requiring daily activity. Application owners may have different, more complex tasks expected of them depending on how each organization defines the role.

Here, we discuss the different kinds of application owners you might employ. Responsibilities and expectations for each deliberately vary along with the time and effort required. The guide below is based on years of conversations with organizations implementing such programs.

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While value is subjective, this chart expresses the increase in time necessary when assigning more significant roles to an application. How many minutes in total depends on the check-in interval for the application in question, which may be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. Furthermore, as opposed to assigning the same type of application owner and check-in interval for all applications, enterprises will often assign different types of application owners and different check-in requirements for certain applications as deemed necessary.

Application Monitor

An Application Monitor is the least demanding kind of application owner. While it is ideal that the individual assigned as application owner should have some familiarity and interest in the application, at this level, it is not necessary. At this level, the following responsibilities are commonly expected:

  • Identify when new versions of the applications are released.
  • Review new releases and recommend updates to the business when security updates or significant changes warrant updating.
  • Subscribe to updates regarding the application to stay abreast of related announcements.

In summary, an Application Monitor is expected to sign up for any announcements and periodically check in on an application to see if any noteworthy updates are available. This can take as little as ten or fifteen minutes every couple of weeks (depending on the frequency of check-ins required by policy.)

Juriba’s upcoming App Owner solution is designed specifically to assist Application Monitors with reminder emails as well as provide consistent capture and reporting of necessary details. Learn more about Juriba App Owner.

Application Coordinator

Increasing the scope of the Application Owner role further, the level of Application Coordinator is a step above that of Application Monitor, with responsibilities often expanded to include:

  • Test and clear application packages for release. When package and compatibility testing is required, package and deployment teams typically engage with the application owner to validate success via functional testing, which requires interactive use of the application to confirm it functions as expected prior to production deployment.
  • Tracking suggested updates to ensure they make it to the users and devices that need them.
  • Seek opportunities for application rationalization. If other applications providing identical or similar functionality exist, application coordinators should discuss and document why this is necessary or come to a consensus and recommend the retirement of duplicative applications. Additionally, if an application is no longer necessary, Application Coordinators are expected to recommend retirement. Shrinking the number of applications in the environment has many benefits, from easing management load to licensing and support costs to the obvious security benefit of reducing the attack surface.

This kind of application owner is asked to do more than simply monitor the application, but not significantly more, and so can be appropriate for certain applications or in environments where the organization is having success with their Application Owner program and wants to see if more value can be easily squeezed from it.

While Juriba’s App Tester can help automate the smoke testing of an application, it can also facilitate functional testing by application owners using virtual images representative of the production environment.

Application Administrator

In addition to all the above responsibilities, an Application Administrator is a kind of application owner who is typically asked to take on the following additional tasks:

  • Attending application training when available.
  • Understanding what versions exist in the environment and opening tickets to mitigate version sprawl.
  • Performing simple packaging tasks.
  • Ensuring compliance with any existing (or sought-after) certifications, including security or accessibility requirements applicable to the organization.
  • Managing licenses. This may include managing user access, particularly in the case of SaaS applications.

At this level, the time and effort required may become significant. Limiting the number of applications assigned to any app owner or reserving this kind of application owner only for specific applications can be effective ways to attain the desired value while mitigating the risk that the application owner program may become too onerous for those holding the role.

Juriba’s App Packager automates the packaging process, which can be initiated with no technical expertise required, making it an ideal way to empower application owners to provide this valuable role for the majority of applications (those that can be automated; some are too complex and require specialists). Among a broad range of benefits, Juriba’s App Lifecycle offering can be an invaluable asset in identifying what versions exist where in the environment to prevent version sprawl.

Application SME (Subject Matter Expert)

The most significant kind of application owner is the Application Subject Matter Expert, and quite a lot is expected of them. At this level, the individual is to serve as a primary resource for any questions related to any aspect of an application.

  • Assist in application support, providing tier 3 support in cases where the helpdesk is not capable of addressing application inquiries.
  • Deliver application training to others in the organization.
  • Awareness of different versions being introduced in the enterprise.
  • Familiarity with the product roadmap, relaying items of interest to the organization.
  • Monitor vendor performance against agreed SLAs.
  • Attending related events to keep up with the latest related product and associated market developments.

At this top tier, the Application SME is a recognized expert on the application. Their responsibilities include strategic planning, high-level decision-making, and acting as the primary point of contact for all application-related queries and issues. They possess deep knowledge of the application and its integration within the organization’s IT ecosystem.

Juriba’s App Lifecycle offering can be an invaluable asset in identifying what versions exist, for what users, and on what devices, all of which are important to confirm everything is as expected with the application and to identify if anything unexpected surfaces.

Which is right for you?

Like so many things, it is often not a one-size-fits-all solution, and the goals of your application owner program will dictate what is necessary. It often comes down to a balance of time and benefit for that time. Some organizations start with all application owners at the Application Monitor level and then, based on the application and the individuals assigned, move some up to levels that require more effort and responsibility as necessary.

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