You know the saying, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’? This perfectly summarizes the role of applications support within a business.
By ensuring the operational processes run without a hitch, applications support makes it possible for your customers to use your app or service without running into issues, and for your other staff to focus on their day to day responsibilities.
Without effective applications support, a successful business can quickly become derailed and see unhappy customers mounting up.
But what does applications support involve? How does it differ from tech support, how does it tie in to the customer experience, and what does it take to become an applications support analyst or specialist?
Read on to find out more.
What is applications support?
Applications support is a branch of IT support service focused on maintaining the proper function of an app or service, and dealing with any issues or problems that may arise.
Covering a broad spectrum of industries, applications support can include anything from mobile apps to self-service checkouts at a supermarket. If it’s an important piece of software or hardware which your business relies on, the chances are that applications support covers it.
From handling emergent system failures to developing frameworks for long-term stability and security, the field of applications support is a wide spanning one with significant responsibility.
What are the differences between application support and tech support?
There are some notable differences between applications support and tech support, but there are also some similarities between the two. Here, we’ll cover what sets them apart and where they overlap.
- Definition: Whilst applications support covers the background upkeep and maintenance of your applications or software, tech support is often the more visible of the two. Working directly with end users to fix issues or deliver product training, tech support is the face of your technology department, whilst applications support is the engine.
- Skills: For an applications support role, you need a range of technical skills such as literacy in SQL and Java, in order to complete highly complex technical tasks on a regular basis. For tech support, you may need slightly less technical competence but much higher levels of familiarity with customer support software, such as helpdesk programs, cobrowsing software, and session replays
- Education: As a more specialist technical role, most applications support specialists are required to obtain a formal degree in the field before beginning their career. For tech support staff, it is more conceivable to start from an apprenticeship or trainee position and progress from there with in-house training.
However, take this information with a grain of salt as there are some stark similarities between the two roles, and both applications support and tech support personnel can develop the necessary skills in a range of ways.
Applications support analyst or specialist job description: what do they do?
We’ve established that the role of an applications support analyst or specialist is a highly technical one, but what exactly does it involve?
Here, we’ll cover the specific responsibilities and day to day activities of an application support specialist, to provide some more insight on the intricacies and importance of the role.
Before an applications support specialist can get to work, they first need to assess the problems that may be facing their software.
By running diagnostic checks and considering technical reports from end users and internal stakeholders alike, applications support specialists are experts at evaluating issues which require swift resolutions.
Identifying and assessing technological solutions
Once they have assessed the issues facing them, applications support specialists must then identify and consider the range of technological solutions available to them.
With an extensive knowledge of programming and software management, these specialists will consider the short- and long-term ramifications of the solutions they implement, ensuring the resolution is a lasting one.
Troubleshooting and solving existing problem
Unfortunately, not every problem is lucky enough to receive a fast resolution. One of the most valuable contributions an applications support specialist can make is to work on existing problems that require a more considered approach.
Troubleshooting is the first step in this process, seeking to identify any problems and the root cause. After this is complete, the specialist will proceed to implement solutions based on their experience and technical prowess.
Working with cross-functional teams
Closely linked with tech support and other support teams, applications support specialists must collaborate with other departments to stay abreast of ongoing developments and issues that arise.
Tech support may hand over technical issues which require a more in-depth, backend approach, meaning effective communication and collaboration is key to achieving faster resolutions and lasting results.
Upon delivering solutions, application support specialists may also need to communicate with other departments, such as customer service, to update them on information they may need to pass on to end users.
Providing on-call support
Technical issues don’t solely arise during working hours, but that doesn’t mean it can wait until tomorrow.
Applications support specialists are often required to complete time-sensitive fixes when a service ceases to function, ensuring that end users are able to continue using the software as expected.
By offering on-call support, applications support specialists provide peace of mind for internal stakeholders and a better experience for the end users.
Maintaining records and writing reports
In order to safeguard against future issues and provide transparency between departments, applications support specialists must facilitate the upkeep of comprehensive records and written reports.
These written records not only provide context for previous issues faced and potential solutions for similar occurrences, but they also offer a paper trail which can be reviewed if a new problem arises.
Application support skills
If you’re considering pursuing a career in applications support or you’re looking for a new specialist to join your team, there are a range of necessary skills to consider.
Here, we’ll break down some of the most important skills for an applications support specialist or analyst.
Whilst your mind may immediately jump to the technical skills necessary for an applications support specialist, the soft skills are just as important for success in the role.
As a role which heavily relies on inter-departmental collaboration and effective delegation, there are a host of soft skills which can serve an applications support specialist well.
Some of these can include:
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Active listening
- Customer-centric attitude
The soft skills may be important, but an applications support specialist simply cannot operate without a deep bag of technical skills.
With the responsibility of assessing and solving technical issues that could cause significant damage to a company and its end users, each specialist must be equipped to deal with any potential technical crisis.
These technical skills can include:
- An understanding of Structured Query Language (SQL)
- Knowledge of other programming languages (Java, .Net, and HTML)
- Up-to-date application software coding and scripting knowledge
- Understanding of telecommunication systems
- Knowledge of standard IT hardware and equipment
- Ability to learn and understand IT management software
- Ability to diagnose and solve application issues
Application support analyst/specialist qualifications
Securing a role in applications support relies on an extensive library of skills, qualifications, and education.
For most applications support roles, the applicant must hold a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in IT, computing, or similar, as well as certified knowledge of programming languages such as Java, SQL, and .Net. As with any specialism, previous experience in a similar role will also go a long way towards securing a role in this field.
Certifications from a major IT trainer, such as Apple, Microsoft or IBM, can also provide additional evidence of a specialist’s competencies and experience.
Application support analyst/specialist salary
As with any role or specialism, salaries can differ from company to company and there is a wide-ranging scale. However, the average salary for an applications support specialist or analyst within the United States is $60,140.
As a specialist in software and technology, the potential career progression in this field is vast, with software developer, IT consultant and business analyst roles all potentially viable options.
In short, an applications support specialist is one of the most crucial cogs in the machine for any digitally-focused business.
As an invaluable resource for fixing spontaneous issues and developing robust systems to stand the test of time, the role of applications support specialist is a varied and challenging one. Whether you’re considering pursuing a career in this field or are looking for a new resource for your team, ensure you take the time to consider all of the skills and experience that will make this role a success.
Sources last checked on: 30-Nov-2023