Application support & Web 2.0

Normally the application support and related teams stay away from the jazzy world of technical innovations and are more into daily maintenance tasks and do more of a routine work. It feels weird to relate the work done by the core support team to the concept like Web 2.0 and related technologies, doesn’t it?

As per the definition on Wikipedia

web20tagcloud “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

Or rather in simpler terms, Web 2.0 provides platform for achieving greater collaboration between people (read resources) via technology tools such as Wikis, Blogs, online automation etc., that promote knowledge sharing, information retrieving & automation of daily jobs.

Now consider the simple definition in terms of the daily job done by a typical support analyst. The application support team needs to have a knowledge management tool, needs to have a reference and error database, needs quick retrieval of the information and they also need the automation tools to do proactive monitoring & related stuff.

Lets have a quick roundup on some of the daily scenarios on how a typical application support analyst (Josh) works and how he can make his life easier by using the Web 2.0 tools.

  • Incident Management – Josh is told about an incident by the helpdesk and he immediately looks up on the Support Wiki to find out if there have been related incidents & finds related information with a proper resolution path. Josh executes the steps mentioned on the resolution plan and quickly restores the service. He adds his experience of dealing the incident in the wiki and makes sure that the wiki is up to date with the information.
  • Service Management – An important task of service management is key stakeholder management and keeping them aware of the progress. Mr Service Manager uses a pre-defined mailing list (i.e., mailman) and email templates keep the stakeholders aware of the issue. That way he saves time and ensures the consistency in the communications sent. The RCA is verified over the wiki and is approved and stored in the knowledge base for future usage.
  • Automation of daily tasks & automated reports – Many tasks that Josh does every day such as conducting the health check of the systems, generate the health report and send them. He uses the custom built automated tools to make the tasks simpler and integrate it with the reporting system that would be available to stakeholders. Simple example of this is, creating the automated report that would retrieve the order status per hour and display on a near-real time graph so the business people can track and retrieve the information as and when they need it, rather than raising a request with ASG and waiting for it to be fulfilled. Mind you, one of the important aspect of Web 2.0 is to make information available socially to a community and empower the users. Josh has done exactly that by using the automated reporting system and making the information available to the community.
  • Sharing information & updates in project – Josh also uses blogs to update the community about the project happenings, latest reports and other updates via putting them on the blog. The community participants subscribe them via RSS, Atom feeds and keep themselves updated.
  • Conducting the trainings – All the training material is uploaded on intranet video streaming servers so all the users who need the training can straightaway go to the intranet site, register themselves and avail the training as per their convenience.
  • Making product implementation or release on production – While doing the work on production to release a software or implement a product, Josh can use a tool like coveritlive.com, to cover the progress of the issue whereas the rest of the team can track the progress online, letting Josh to concentrate on the work rather than doing talking on conference.

Above are some of the scenarios I have tried to explain where the Web 2.0 tools and technology could be made of a good use for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency within the project.

Obviously, as I said earlier in my posts, the usage of above and how well you can combine the two is absolutely dependent on the project you are working and the demands of the project. Simple fact is you don’t want to land up in a situation where your work its worth $100 and your spend on technology adaptation is >$100 !

Cheerio !

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