What Is an Application Manager Role? (With Duties and FAQ)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Software applications that operate smoothly and efficiently are an important part of an organization's efficient IT systems. Application managers manage software applications by identifying issues, staying aware of software development trends, and implementing cost-effective solutions. Understanding the role of an application manager can help you identify if this career may be right for you. In this article, we define the application manager role, outline the duties, technical skills and qualifications, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What is an application manager role?

Individuals in an application manager role are responsible for investigating, researching, and procuring software applications that meet an organization's needs. These professionals also install, configure, and maintain applications. As a leader in this specialization, you may also create processes and protocols for software systems, manage computer and server upgrades, troubleshoot issues, and manage employees.

Application managers are important in organizations because they lead and use their expertise to report on the progress of technical issues to senior managers, end-users, and other stakeholders. Their responsibilities extend across workplaces to ensure applications function smoothly and enable employees to perform their work. These managers often create and manage budgets for projects and daily operations of IT departments or units across multiple locations.

Related: Application Lifecycle Management (Stages and Importance)

Duties of an application manager

Application managers possess expertise in IT skills and understand system development and design, project management, and end-user needs and experience. Their duties may involve managing databases, troubleshooting business systems, and managing complex projects across several technical and non-technical teams. The following are some of the duties of an application manager:

Manage projects

Application managers are responsible for managing projects and monitoring the installation of systems and applications. This responsibility involves developing a plan, securing employees, contractors, or vendors with the necessary technical skills, assigning duties, coordinating tasks, and ensuring the project completion is on time and within budget. An important part of managing this kind of IT project is identifying and mitigating risks in the project's lifetime with effective design and processes.

Related: Understanding Project Management Methodology (With Examples)

Set protocols, procedures, and processes

Application managers create and maintain standards, procedures, and documentation which may include participation in IT audits and other processes to ensure the integrity of IT systems. Their duties may also involve implementing system changes and administering access to information and systems using IT security policies, standards, and guidelines. Managers often partner with stakeholders, IT management teams, and vendors to develop goals for new applications and create system maps and business processes.

Communicate within and outside the organization

Effectively communicating with various organizational levels and end users ensures that application managers succeed in their projects. They may use their communications skills to make presentations to IT colleagues, managers, and other audiences within the organization or externally to industry groups and conferences. The duties of an application manager relating to communications allow them to succeed in securing support for budget requests, software upgrades, or new business processes and policies.

Manage others

An application manager's responsibility can also include managing the work of others that may involve a team of internal IT specialists, vendors, and other contract employees. These duties include managing application maintenance outsourcing, directing software contract agreements, and implementing and monitoring standards and service level agreements by coaching others. Managers often lead a team responsible for application software updates and system hardware and oversee teams' daily operations and functions.

Related: What Does an IT Manager Do? (And How to Become One)

Identify risks

Application managers play an important role in identifying, managing, and escalating project risks and issues to a successful resolution. These duties include ensuring services are ready before implementing systems and monitoring the rollout to find any problems. Managers balance risk to meet the needs of their organization by providing strong security, excellent systems technical support, and fast resolution to issues.

Manage the application life cycle

Application lifecycle management involves the professionals, processes, and tools that manage the life cycle of an application from its beginning to the end of its life. Application managers may work with other IT professionals to manage the application life cycle, including disciplines such as the waterfall development method. The life cycle duties may also include software development, quality assurance, testing, deploying applications, and maintenance.

Provide ongoing technical support

Ongoing technical support is a key duty of application managers as they resolve issues relating to servers, networks, database management software, operating systems, and business application software systems. They may offer technical support to a team of IT professionals in smaller organizations or play a direct role in these support duties. Other aspects of these duties include coordinating and managing the purchase, installation, and configuration of desktop computers and application software upgrades.

Qualifications and technical skills

Application managers often begin their careers with a postsecondary diploma or undergraduate degree and may earn further credentials through employee training and development. They understand system development and design, user experience concepts, and project management. Managers also possess several years of IT experience in managing databases, troubleshooting technical systems, and building and maintaining business systems.

Qualifications

Application managers often possess a college diploma or undergraduate degree in a subject such as computer science, computer systems technology, engineering, or information systems. They have experience in various applications and systems and often transfer these skills across several industry sectors. Other qualifications for application managers include the following:

  • Experience with programming languages, server software, and systems

  • Understanding of software development life cycles, systems programming, and scripting

  • Experience with enterprise resource planning systems

  • Ability to train employees and colleagues

  • Proven experience paying attention to details

  • Comfort working with teams, clients, and vendors to identify and solve problems

  • An attitude to strive for constant improvement in technical systems and processes

  • Leadership skills that inspire technical teams to achieve project success

Technical skills

Application managers often require technical skills that they develop through work experience, training, and certification. Hiring managers may seek managers who have the proven ability to learn about new applications and systems. The following are some technical skills for an application manager:

  • Software development

  • Database management

  • System design

  • Workflow analysis

  • Troubleshooting

  • Programming

  • Data analysis

  • Technical support

  • Technical writing

Related: Technical Interview Questions with Sample Answers

FAQ about application managers

Here are some answers to common questions about the roles and responsibilities of an application manager:

What is the next career step for an application manager?

Professionals who succeed in this role often advance their careers to become team leads or senior application managers. To advance further, application managers may earn additional credentials or a degree in advanced data analytics, computer science, or business administration. With five or more years of experience, these professionals may work as directors, project managers, chief technology officers, or executives.

What are extra qualifications that employers may seek?

Most employers focus on specific skills that they prefer among candidates. Listing these qualifications on your resume can help you improve your chances of getting the job. The following are some common skills an employer may look for:

  • Knowledge of advanced systems methods, analysis, principles, and practices

  • Knowledge of modelling principles and tools

  • Experience preparing workflow mapping and analysis

  • Experience designing, leading, and facilitating training

Related: What Is a Summary of Qualifications (With Examples)

What soft or interpersonal skills are important for this role?

IT professionals such as application managers with good interpersonal and soft skills may attract more recruiters. These skills may include abilities to make effective presentations, lead team meetings, and communicate well with colleagues in IT and non-technical departments. Other important soft skills for these IT professionals may include the following:

  • Project management

  • Creativity

  • Resilience

  • Perseverance

  • Problem solving

  • Resourcefulness

  • Curiosity

  • Teamwork

Related: 7 Interpersonal Skills Interview Questions (With Tips)

Is user design experience useful to the role?

An application manager with user design experience may be an attractive candidate to a recruiter. Those with this experience know how to reshape interactions between an organization and its customers by identifying customer needs and creating a positive experience for them. User experience skills may relate to technology, such as helping customers access an organization's products and services through an application or website.

The combination of application manager and user experience backgrounds provides IT professionals with the knowledge to design processes and work with IT development teams. The results of their work are systems that work well for all users. Managers may direct their teams to make design changes that consider the user experience to achieve higher levels of success.

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