Application Support: User Community versus IT

One of the trends BCG has begun to see over the last two years has been a migration of system support from the IT department to the user community or specially designated super-user. With all of the responsibility IT has inherited, including infrastructure, common applications and non-system technology like cell phones, IT simply does not have time to be the custodian for most of the business applications. Further, they are far from the best department to support applications for which the basic process is outside of the scope of their position. Who better to support and champion a project management application than a tech-friendly PM who has more credibility with the user community anyway.

IT still has an important role in ensuring the system performs well and is accessible from remote points. Further they have to ensure the data is secure and that they can occasionally write custom reports or interfaces. However, responsibility for the daily support and help-desk functions could be moved to someone from within the user community who is well-versed in the applications use and functionality.

This transition has important benefits. It allows IT the luxury of time to focus on the very important infrastructure and common application issues, issues they are well trained to resolve. It also allows them more time for planning and risk mitigation, two other important aspects of their job that are often ignored or given scant attention. Finally, it allows someone from within the user community to do a much better job of supporting the application because they have a vested interest in seeing the application well used and well liked.