Mission Release Management
Release management is a relatively new, but growing, discipline in the information technology arena. Release management addresses the business need to oversee the integration of the phases of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). In the past, project managers filled this role at a very high level and experience has shown without dedicated release managers, implementing new software functionality can be highly risky and result in significant business disruption.
The business case behind release management is strong and the challenges, particularly for large, distributed systems are many. For example, most organizations have development and operations silos whereby key IT functions (incident/problem management, change management, release management, and asset management) are not integrated. This creates challenges for users and stakeholders to request IT services and operations to support and deliver IT services as there is no common or consistent way to share information across IT functions (e.g., what’s in the release, what problems are solved) and/or engage the right stakeholders for approving, reviewing, or vetting changes to IT systems. Even when release management has been implemented in an organization, it often suffers from poorly defined roles and responsibilities, lack of common understanding of the release policy, no standard or documented processes and procedures, insufficient resources, and poorly defined relationships with other IT functions.
When implementing release management, organizations should:
1 – Ensure a common understanding of the release policy
2 – Distinguish roles and responsibilities within the release management organization
3 – Clarify roles and responsibilities (and relationships) with other IT functions
4 – Define and document process activities
5 – Establish metrics 6 – Ensure sufficient resources