From Application Manager (AM) to Application Service Manager (ASM)

Blog post   •   Jul 16, 2013 09:18 CEST

Numerous companies have outsourced their application support and maintenance to an external service provider; very few have managed to make this outsourcing a success. One of the reasons is that they haven’t completed the necessary changes that are needed; several have retained too many people performing the supplier work, while others think that they can outsource the accountability for application management. The correct path is lies somewhere in between.

One example is the difference between an Application Manager (AM) and an Application Service Manager (ASM) and the move from AM to ASM. The difference depends, of course, on what roles the AM and ASM have; we will play with the idea that an AM manages an application in a traditional, non-outsourced IT organization and the ASM manages an application in an outsourced environment.

As an AM, you were normally involved in every detail regarding application incidents, problems, changes, improvements and stakeholder management. As an ASM, you need to rid yourself of these duties, especially the detail. Primarily you need to see yourself as the link in a chain, not in the centre of the web, as everything will not pass through you anymore. You will now have fewer interfaces; your key interactions will be between the system owner and the application supplier. You should not be a major player in the operational processes, like incident and problem management, if you are still doing this; you probably have the incorrect set-up. You should, of course, work as the escalation point for your customer and supplier if they require your support, apart from then, you should only be kept informed.

It is important to receive excellent cooperation from your supplier, so you need to get-up-to-speed quickly, get the rhythm going. Ensure you have a flowing interaction with your supplier, so as not to get any unexpected surprises. Confirm, with your supplier, your expectations and make a common plan for how success should look like in 3, 6 and 12 months time. Agree your KPI with other service managers and communicate this to your supplier.

It is important that the supplier has confidence in you as a service manager, that won’t happen if you put your supplier on the spot. If you are unhappy with a deliverable or their way of working, discuss it with your supplier face to face, as soon as possible. Protect your supplier, remember you made the selection.

If you set up your ASM duties correctly, you are then able to have a more flexible way of working. Since you are not heavily involved in every aspect, you may be able to take on more applications/services (dependent on the size) and even manage a portfolio of services. A common approach to working that is understood by all service managers and their supplier, making your work much easier and easier to cover for you and you will never again be the bottleneck.

Magnus Sjöholm,
3gamma Sweden

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