AppTracker - How it Works
The discovery process is a critical one. It involves collecting and recording:
- Installation instructions ("Make sure you enable the XYZ feature and click 'No' when it asks for ABC")
- Configuration instructions ("After you've installed the application go into the options and change XYZ")
- Licensing details ("The serial number required for installation is 12345")
- Application dependencies and prerequisites ("This application needs Java Runtime 1.x")
- Who is the "Application Owner"
- Who will undertake User Acceptance Testing
- Known compatibility issues ("This won't work as a virtual app")
It very common for organisations to hold some installation instructions for some software titles. There will probably be some gaps where discovery documentation was never created, or perhaps has been misplaced, especially if you haven't been strict with your application management. For the new application requests it's a very good idea to ensure discovery documentation is created for all titles. It's useful if you can setup a template for this documentation so that the discovery team always records a consistent set of metadata for each application. You will also want to make sure that the installation source media is stored in a central repository, and it's good practice to setup a naming standard for the directory structure and filenames.
If you're using a workflow tool such as AppTracker then you can setup a discovery template so that the discovery team can record this information consistently. The bulk of applications' discovery information should work well with this template. For very complex installations where large Word documents are required to store the installation and configuration steps, these can be attached to the application in AppTracker.
Storing the discovery data in a templated format has one big benefit: it can easily be reported on. For example, it might be handy to understand which applications in our estate have a built-in auto-update function. The screenshot here shows a "Data Mining Report" where I have queried the entire application estate as to which applications attempt to auto-update. When managing a large volume of applications this kind of functionality can be a life-saver.
The final piece of the discovery jigsaw puzzle is for our discovery team to add some information on who the application owner is and who is going to be in charge of signing off the User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Getting this information up-front is going to save lots of waiting time further down the line. There is a dedicated tab in AppTracker for adding these contacts. If you've used Active Directory as a data feed then we'll be able to automatically email these contacts later in the process.
Let's assume our discovery is now complete, so we'll pop over and see the packaging team and let them know there's a new piece of work ready for them to get started. If we are using AppTracker then we can simply move this application into "Packaging". The Packaging team will get an instant notification that there's a new discovered application ready for packaging with all the necessary documentation in place.
Good quality discovery is an essential part of application management. Using a workflow tool won’t necessarily make the discovery process more efficient, but it builds the foundations to provide efficiencies in subsequent processes.
Next process: Packaging
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