Develop your Application Support Strategy
Plan and communicate how users will get help using ThingWorx applications. Internally, specify which teams are responsible for various aspects of the application and how they will triage issues. Your application support model should be based on your responsiveness and uptime requirements.
Before you begin, complete these steps:
Learn best practices for application support
Develop processes for providing post-deployment technical support to ThingWorx application users. Ideally, all operators, managers, and other users will know who to contact and how to get help resolving technical issues.
As you design your support model, there are several best practices to follow:
- Establish support responsibility early in the project. In the early stages of your Industrial IoT project, determine who will support the applications in the long term. Assigning these responsibilities early ensures the right people gain the knowledge they need to troubleshoot and maintain the application.
- Create thorough documentation. Thorough documentation is crucial for long-term supportability of the solution. The support organization will need specific details about how the application is designed and implemented in order to resolve issues, fix bugs, and perform system maintenance in a timely manner. Whether you’re using internal employees or an external resource to build the application(s), you must document the delivered solution for ease of knowledge transfer and future reference.
- Plan your handoff. Decide when and how your Industrial IoT project team will transfer ownership to your designated support organization. Ensure your support organization receives training on the implemented solution before the project wraps up. All support teams should also receive basic ThingWorx training to ensure they have a sound understanding of the core ThingWorx Platform.
Determine support strategy
Create a plan for how your organization will maintain and address potential issues that may arise in the day-to-day operations. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Availability: Your organization must decide whether your ThingWorx apps are critical to the manufacturing process and define your support model accordingly. If it’s a 24-hour-per-day, 7-days-per-week operation, your support must be available on a 24/7 basis. If your operations do not run 24/7, you can adjust availability accordingly. The key is to ensure the responsiveness of the support organization is aligned to the criticality of the systems.
- Roles and responsibilities: Who, specifically, should deliver support? The responsibilities may span different areas. For example, one team may be responsible for machine connectivity and another oversees application maintenance. Your IT team likely has a “help desk” that will be the first point of contact for support. Determine how the teams will triage issues among the various experts at different tiers.
- Escalation: How will technical support escalate issues that are outside their domain of expertise? How will they handle complex issues that require additional expertise? In a tiered support model, your team will evaluate issues to determine the root cause and triage accordingly. PTC support may be contacted for any product-related issues or questions.
To access PTC technical support, you will log a case with PTC eSupport. Once received, a member of the technical support team will assist you.
Document your application support strategy
Finalize and document the application support process. Outline who is the first point of contact, and how to escalate potential issues. Verify everyone in the support organization agrees to the process and is prepared to execute it. Plan checkpoints throughout the year to ensure the process is working and improve it if necessary.
Ensure your end users know how to get help with their ThingWorx application, should issues arise.
Plan handoff details
After you deploy your Industrial IoT application, the project team will transfer ownership of the live solution to your designated support organization. The handoff may take place immediately after go-live deployment, or weeks afterward. Choose the milestone or date when the handoff will take place. Finally, ensure all parties are comfortable supporting the solution going forward.