Application Management Services (AMS) regroup all maintenance and support activities of a given enterprise platform and related integration landscape, covering business processes, systems and apps, people and data:
- Business processes: structured activities performed by business functions to deliver a given outcome.
- Systems and apps: PLM, ERP, MES and other enterprise platforms and apps, including interfaces, data translators and other IT tools (load balancing, back-up, fail-over, archive and restore, etc.).
- People: education and Q&A for business functions to maximize on process and platform usage, improving on data (and ultimately product) quality, reaching internal and external users and other stakeholders.
- Data: from standard adherence to quality and compliance monitoring.
Most organizations support their applications and infrastructure differently. Combining AMS and Infrastructure Managed Services (IMS) is not uncommon to benefits from synergies between the two. IMS typically regroup all server and client hardware, compute, storage, database, middleware and network connectivity.
In this post, I elaborate on the value of AMS when operating PLM platforms and associated integration landscape, what the expected deliverables are, covering ongoing stabilization, flexibility, operational efficiency and other continuous improvements.
Managed Services (AMS and IMS) provide operational maintenance and support of a wide range of platforms, applications, configured and customized solutions with interfaces, data management and business process continuous improvements. This is a way to tap into specialized resources and expertise, without the burden of managing technical resources and knowledge—which is especially relevant when referring to complex or niche applications covering the PLM scope.
More specifically, AMS cover application monitoring, administration, testing, problem investigation and resolution, user helpdesk and level 1-2-3 support, with possible training content adjustment with the ongoing management of process solutions and feature knowledgebase. AMS is about continuous business benefit realization as value delivery does not stop at the end of implementations, but as users get fully effective with new or upgraded PLM solutions; this includes periods of stabilization, as well as ongoing optimization.
Focusing on time to value
Maintaining PLM applications require niche expertise and knowledge as they sit at the intersection of business processes, product development, from design to engineering, manufacturing and commercialization, leveraging IT platform capabilities and enterprise master data governance. Each and every PLM implementation, upgrade or enhancement will transition to business-as-usual (BAU) operations once they are deployed and as part of a post Go-Live service transition and hypercare warranty period.
Characterizing the value of AMS, business benefits range across the following parameters:
- Round the clock global / local support continuity.
- Consistency of maintenance and support across business function and knowledge sharing to prevent issue re-occurrence or repetitive support tickets.
- Increased flexibility and scalability (easily sizable based on number of users, apps, interfaces, data usage, support level, etc.).
- Improved information and process standardization.
- Integrated application and data usage analytics and associated real-time or near real-time dashboards, and business tool integration.
- Optimized license usage tracking.
- Active and effective communication about issue resolution, functional and non-functional improvements and value realization to all key stakeholders.
- Proactive solution monitoring and risk mitigation on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.
Focusing on solution stabilization
As PLM or ERP platform implementations and upgrade transition to BAU, maintenance operations transition to AMS teams during a handover and hypercare period; solution administration, maintenance, user support and continuous improvement kick in.
Solution stabilization includes series of maintenance and monitoring activities:
- Handling and helping end-users and business leaders in making sense and improving operations (helpdesk levels 1-2-3 and communication governance).
- Tracking and resolving issues, including managing delivery of implementation partners.
- Mitigating technical and business risks, from process gaps to system limitations.
- Re-enforcing and improving / optimizing contextual training material and knowledge base information (how-to, crib-sheets, functional method manuals, administration documentation, technical system maintenance instructions, etc.).
- Coordinating service requests and enhancement requests with solution editors and value-added resellers (VARs).
- Deploying minor changes and upgrades in collaboration with implementation partners.
- Coordinating and communicating changes with external parties.
- Supporting internal and external on-boarding of new users and suppliers.
- Tracking benefit realization post-deployment and managing log of feedback and potential future improvements (back log); whether they need to be implemented in a future project or as part of the AMS activities (based on size, complexity and time to benefit).
Focusing on continuous improvement
Delivering value does not stop with project implementation; it carries on throughout AMS activities as improvements get deployed. AMS also contributes to tracking value realization which often ramps-up as users learn and adapt to new working practices and processes, getting used to new platforms and tools and becoming more effective as they fully embrace new operating models.
The AMS contributions to solutions continuous improvement includes:
- Seamless application administration, to ensure secure and stable access to the relevant platforms and tools.
- Maintenance automation to generate year-on-year efficiencies (economies of scale and scope).
- Rigorous maintenance and support, including faster issue resolution and rigorous service level adherence.
- Effective knowledge capture, dissemination and reuse across functions; e.g., engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing, operations, supply chain, IT, HR, finance, procurement, etc.
- Proactive risk mitigation and testing of new improvements.
- Clear communication with all stakeholders, especially the end user communities.
- Transparency of process execution and issue management, including effective crisis management.
- Current technical and process knowledge and expertise, eager to learn and apply new knowledge to the current operations.
- On-going ideation for further optimization (more flexibility, scalability, usage, etc.).
- Effective project service transition management, including knowledge transfer, handover sign-off, DevOps framework streamlining across the platform landscape.
What are your thoughts?