How do you define an Application Support Engineer?

You will finally understand what an application support engineer is!

Aimery Duriez-Mise
Applicative Support Engineer

Family gathering this Sunday. Question comes up : “What’s your new job in practice?”

🤔 “Well, you see, my job is to support people in using complex IT applications”.

Obviously, it is far from being complete as a definition.

And it is pretty difficult to define the role of Application Support Engineer.

Let’s start by defining what is not a Support Engineer :

  • Application Support Engineer is not a Helpdesk Support: she/he has an application expertise and his responsibility is not limited to the execution of formalized tasks
  • She/He is not a Devops nor a Technical Support. Their role is focused on the delivery process as well as the technical monitoring of applications. On the other side, the Application Support Engineer focuses, first of all, on assisting the business or client in their use of the applications. For the same reason, she/he is also not an infrastructure engineer (system, DBA, network etc.)
  • She/He is not a Business Analyst, as her functional expertise is mainly focused on resolving user requests and incidents on  Production environment. For the same reason, she/he is not a Developer either.
  • She/he is not a Middle or Back Office Business Support. She/he has a technical knowledge on applications and access to technical monitoring and application logs.
  • Finally, she/he is not a Tester either. She/He is involved in several testing phases , and can – within a Feature Team organization – grow on this expertise. But its scope of action is focused on Production and not Delivery.

Whilst the application support is none of these roles, she/he is in daily interaction with each of them.

Okay for the reasoning by absurdity (or “reductio ad absurdum”).

But what is she/he responsible for?

Application Support Engineer ensures on a daily basis that the user experience is the best possible in Production environment — focusing on a subset of applications.

Um, and … nothing regarding IT processes?
Obviously Application Support Engineer bases his practice on some of the key ITIL processes (Incident, Request and Problem mainly). But I am not an absolutist of this framework and I met excellent Application Support Engineers who were not certified. So let’s not base our definition only on this framework.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned:

  • Application Support Engineer focuses mainly on functionally complex applications in the Production environment
  • She/He is in a daily interface with all the application stakeholders (BA, Dev, OPS), with the Business Support and more generally with all business users of the supported applications
  • She/He has an advanced functional application knowledge — without being an expert nonetheless. She/he has access to functional specifications or “User stories”
  • She/he also has advanced technical application knowledge — also without being an expert. She/he has access to technical logs and monitoring tools
  • She/He uses ITIL processes to optimize his practice
  • She/He uses these 3 expertises (functional, technical, process) to improve the Application users experience on a daily basis.

Indeed, defining the job of Application Support Engineer is complex because she/he is a Swiss army knife.

And she/he’s playing a very key role as part of the entire IT ecosystem.

I hope I answered the question. Even though, it might not help you explaining your new job at the next family gathering…

I therefore suggest a twist like: “My job is exciting but complex to explain. If you want to know what my daily life looks like,  watch the “IT Crowd” TV show.

We also have the opportunity in a future post to detail the personality traits common to people who thrive in the Application Support.

Applicative Support Engineer

Aimery Duriez-Mise


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