RIS brings app support and maintenance course to Ryerson

A continuing education course on application maintenance and support is making its way from Alberta to Ontario thanks to a partnership between RIS and Ryerson University.

Starting this September and running throughout the semester, the three-hour class will be held on Thursday nights at Ryerson’s downtown Toronto campus. Titled IT Application Management: Support and Maintenance, the course is based on a similar program that made its debut at the University of Calgary earlier this year. It covers documentation and reporting, governance, metrics and benchmarks, and even corporate culture, according to RIS.

The content for the Ryerson course will come primarily from Managing Excellence, a book authored by RIS chief executive Peter Thompson and published earlier this year. Some pre-publication materials for the book were also used in the University of Calgary course, according to instructor Roger Couvillon.

Aimed at experienced IT professionals, Couvillon said the Calgary course attracted a range of students including programmers, team lead managers and business executives. It’s an area of enterprise IT that requires its own special aptitudes, he said.

“They have to recognize there’s a difference between development and support and maintenance,” he said. “The skills for application development are more forward-thinking and strategic. Application support staff have to have a set of operational skills. It’s more current thinking. They’re also dealing with extreme pressure – they may have deadlines measured in minutes rather than hours.”

RIS, which offers application support and maintenance as a managed service, has created a methodology it calls SMART, which it uses with clients. The course won’t offer any details on that methodology, but breaks down key principles that helped inspire it, Thompson said.

“There’s 12 best practices being learned and utilized, so there’s a feeling that computing is less of a black art,” he said. “It creates a comfort level that (application maintenance and support) can be done professionally.”

Couvillon, who also works at RIS as project manager for solution services, said many students in the Calgary course were happy to see there was something that addressed application maintenance and support. Although the businesspeople who enrolled may have been trying to work better with those who work in operational areas, others were looking for specific tools to improve their job.

“A lot of feedback was they were going back and trying to put these things into practice,” he said.

Thompson said he wasn’t sure whether RIS would be expanding the program to other Canadian universities, though he did say the company was approached by at least one U.S. school about potentially adopting it. Although the Calgary course earned a credit as part of a management program, the Ryerson course has not been made part of the Information Management certificate requirements.

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