Supporting of applications is critical for three quarters of organisations, but over half (53%) are struggling to maintain and manage their portfolios. Latest research from Fujitsu confirms the need for better asset management and qualified application support analysts.
With application support a dynamic career track with many opportunities, FDM Academy provides the lowdown on what it takes to make the grade.
What do application support analysts do?
They fix application and system problems, or any incident that is disrupting the application service that business users depend on. The job calls for both technical capability and business understanding. Crucially, applications are production, or live, issues and need immediate attention: an unflappable temperament is a must.
What does good communication consist of?
It goes without saying that application support analysts need excellent communication skills – but what exactly does that mean? First, of course, is the ability to express yourself well, verbally and on paper or email. You also need an acute understanding that other people within the business depend on your services, and know how to respond to that dependency. This may be via acknowledgement, updates and resolution.
Core tech competencies
An application support analyst needs to demonstrate competent IT literacy around applications and systems. Core technical areas are databases and SQL, and operating system platforms such as UNIX, especially Solaris, and Windows. Delivering live IT environments that enable the business every day is a challenging and dynamic career with many opportunities.
Six further competencies
These additional capabilities will ensure success in building a support analyst career:
• Technical knowledge
• Business awareness
• Cultural awareness
• Service awareness, preferably IT Infrastructure library (ITIL) certification
• Investigation and diagnostic skills (the Sherlock Holmes factor)
• Support tool knowledge
Six personal attributes
Application support staff, particularly those within blue chip companies, cite the following attributes as contributing to success:
• Communication skills and active listening
• Empathy with users
• Acceptance of ownership
• Patience and understanding
• Investigation & diagnostic skills (more of the Sherlock factor)
• Language skills (in some cases)
Six asset management failures
The findings of the Fujitsu research illustrate why application support is so necessary:
• More than half of CIOs would not be able to show their chief financial officer that they know all the applications sitting on their IT infrastructure.
• Two-thirds of CIOs felt that their applications portfolio was only partially aligned to their business strategy or not at all.
• Only 39% of CIOs said they had the right strategy to manage their organisation's portfolio.
• Nearly two-thirds of CIOs could not provide the true cost of running applications in their business.
• 47% of CIOs said they did not have the resources to ensure maximum value from their applications.
• Half of CIOs said the level of duplication was moderate to "too much".
From the horse’s mouth – an application analyst’s advice
New application support analyst Mohammed Rana is a consultant on the Application Support Stream with FDM Academy.
“I hold a mechanical engineering degree which I obtained at Queen Mary and also have masters in mechanical engineering from Brunel University. After graduating I came across FDM: I applied and passed their assessment."
The essential tech courses
“After completing technical courses in UNIX, SQL and EXCEL VBA, I also attained qualifications in both ITIL (IT Infrastructure library) and IAQ (introduction to investment qualification). The comprehensive training programs and certified examinations have moulded me into a skilled, confident and technical candidate."
“Once I’d acquired this range of technical and financial skills, I was placed at Credit Suisse London in May 2010 to work in the credit derivatives’ Application Support team. The environment there was dynamic, buzzing and challenging.
The role gave me experience in the following:
• Supporting various trading applications and platforms used in the fixed income department
• Solving problems around profit and loss breaks, data feeds, risk figures and user rights
• Liaising between front office, product control, risk and strategy to deliver two essential tools for post trading data analysis.
• Migration projects, UAT, parallel testing, and regression testing
• Resolving urgent and immediate requests by various users in a vibrant and demanding environment
• Advanced use of EXCEL formulae and VBA
• Team working, time management, communication and problem solving skills were significantly enhanced
• Exposure to the organisational structure of investment banks
• Further understanding of financial processes and terms that affect our economy
What I'm currently working on...
“The Credit Suisse project was completed in November 2010. I then returned to the FDM academy to strengthen my technical skills by completing advanced UNIX and SQL Units. FDM immediately found me a position at Lloyds FX support team shortly afterwards.
Tips for wannabes
“Personally, I think the main skills for an Application Support Analyst are communication, problem solving and organisational skills. An individual who can work under pressure, communicate efficiently and provide alternative solutions is likely to succeed.”
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