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Updated: 5 March 2024

Contributors: Matthew Finio, Amanda Downie

What is application management (AM)?

Application management is the practice of overseeing software applications throughout their lifecycle—including installation, operation, maintenance, support and optimization—to ensure peak performance and functionality.

Application management is the comprehensive process of managing, maintaining and supporting software applications throughout their lifecycle. This encompasses tasks such as installation, updating, patching, upgrading and overseeing both the software and hardware components necessary for application operation.

Often referred to as AM, application management integrates various services, processes and methodologies to ensure the efficient management, maintenance and enhancement of custom, packaged or network-delivered business applications. The process often incorporates the use of specialized tools and methodologies to streamline and automate various aspects of application management.

Application management teams collaborate closely with various stakeholders, including developers, testers and business units to ensure that the applications meet organizational objectives and user requirements. They monitor application performance, identify and resolve any bugs or issues, implement necessary updates and security measures and provide ongoing support to users.

In addition, the teams will integrate new features and functionalities to improve the user experience, as well as ensure that the applications adhere to industry standards and compliance regulations.

Ultimately, application management plays a crucial role in maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of software applications, enabling businesses to operate smoothly and meet their operational and strategic goals.

The processes and activities necessary for application management can vary depending on an organization’s size, industry and goals. The general elements typically include:

Application development: The design, coding, testing and implementation of software applications. 

Application deployment: The installation and configuration of the new application for use in specific environments.

Application monitoring: The continuous observation of the performance and functionality of the application to identify issues.

Application maintenance: The regular updates, patches and fixes of any bugs in the application to ensure optimal operation.

Application support: The assistance and troubleshooting of solutions for application users encountering issues.

Application security: The cybersecurity measures to protect the application from potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Application integration: The seamless communication and data flow between the application and other systems within the organization.

Application retirement: The process of phasing out and discontinuing an application at the end of its lifecycle.

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What is application lifecycle management (ALM)?

Application lifecycle management (ALM) refers to the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a software application from the initial concept to its retirement (“cradle to grave”). ALM encompasses a broader set of stages, including the development, testing, deployment and maintenance of an application.

It involves the coordination of people, processes and tools to effectively deliver and manage high-quality applications that meet user requirements and the organization’s objectives.

Key components of application lifecycle management include:

Application development: Efficiently design and develop the application, considering the architecture, user interface and coding practices.

Deployment and release management: Ensure the smooth deployment and release of the application into specific environments while minimizing disruptions.

Maintenance and support: Provide ongoing maintenance, support and troubleshooting to address any issues and ensure optimal, bug-free performance of the application.

Performance optimization: Continuously analyze and optimize the performance of the application to ensure it meets the defined standards and performance metrics. Use application performance management (APM) software to ensure critical applications are performing as expected. 

Requirements management: Capture, trace, analyze and manage the requirements of the application to ensure it aligns with the organization's goals and user needs. 

Security and compliance: Implement effective security measures and follow industry regulations to protect the application and its data from threats and vulnerabilities and ensure its compliance. 

Testing and quality assurance: Thoroughly test the application to verify it functions as intended and meets the required quality standards.

User training and support: Provide user training and support to ensure that employees or users can effectively use the application and understand its functions. Stakeholders play an important role in delivering technical expertise throughout the application lifecycle.

ALM aims to streamline the software development process, improve the quality of the application and reduce the time and costs involved in its development and maintenance.

What are application management services (AMS)?

Application management services (AMS) refer to the outsourcing of the management and support of enterprise applications to a third-party service provider. By outsourcing application management, companies can optimize costs and leverage specialized expertise from the provider. Maintaining, optimizing and supporting various types of software applications within the organization become responsibilities of the provider, which can tailor their services to meet specific requirements of the organization.

AMS providers aim to ensure that applications run smoothly, securely and efficiently and outsourcing AM allows organizations to focus on their core business functions without worrying about the complexities of application management.

Why is application management important for business?

Application management (AM) is important for businesses as it ensures the smooth operation, maintenance and optimization of software applications critical for various organizational functions. AM plays a critical role in enhancing operational efficiency by ensuring that the applications are operating smoothly, minimizing downtime and addressing technical quickly.

Efficient application management leads to increased productivity and innovation within organizations. It allows employees to focus on core activities, business processes, competitive issues, and expanding and strengthening the ecosystem without disruptions caused by application-related bugs.

Effective AM also contributes to improving the user experience since it enables well-managed applications with more seamless, user-friendly interfaces. This benefit can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and give the organization a competitive edge.

By ensuring that applications are up to date and functioning optimally, AM contributes to cost efficiency, allowing businesses to allocate resources more strategically and invest in other areas of development and growth. Additionally, effective application management enables businesses to adhere to industry regulations and compliance standards, minimizing the risk of penalties and legal consequences.

Overall, AM serves as a key enabler for businesses to stay agile and responsive to changing market demands and technology. By ensuring that applications are secure, reliable and aligned with business objectives, application management facilitates organizational success and growth, fosters innovation and can increase competitive advantage.


Who are the key stakeholders in application management?

Some important stakeholders in application management are:

Application developers, DevOps and DevSecOps: Since they’re responsible for designing, developing, deploying, integrating, maintaining and securing the application, these groups are critical for understanding the technical aspects of the application and implementing updates and improvements.

Application managers: Part of the IT team and overseers of application software within the enterprise, these individuals lead project management and workflows for the implementation, maintenance and retirement of applications.

Business owners and stakeholders: With a focus on productivity and the bottom line, this group has a vested interest in the application's performance and functionality. Their feedback is essential for aligning the application management process with the organization's broader business objectives.

Users: The individuals and groups who directly interact with the application are sources for feedback and usage data, which are critical for understanding the application's effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement.

IT management: As overseers of the overall IT strategy and infrastructure, IT management can contribute input for aligning application management activities with the organization's broader IT goals.

IT operations teams: Responsible for managing the infrastructure and systems on which the applications run, these teams are crucial for ensuring the smooth functioning of the applications and maintaining the underlying hardware and software components.

Vendor or third-party providers: In cases where the application is sourced from external vendors or third-party providers, these entities are important stakeholders. Their involvement might include providing application support, updates and maintenance services.

Engaging and collaborating with these key stakeholders is essential for effective application management. Doing so helps ensure that the management process aligns with the organization's overall goals, meets user requirements and remains responsive to evolving technology and business needs.

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