Release Management Guide
Release Management Guide. Releasing new software or upgrading them is an integral part of the ever-evolving world of information technology. Software release management involves using project management principles to deploy new software packages or update existing packages.
In addition to the process areas defined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), namely: initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure, software deployment involves the use of specific release management processes.
They include: the product request process, release packaging, documentation, development, change control, customer testing, customer notification, training, and deployment.
Unfortunately, until recently, IT companies did not have release managers. In most cases, the program manager was “overseeing” the activities of the various teams. But the trend is starting to change and most companies now feel the need for release managers.
The release manager is first of all a project manager whose task is to manage the release of software from idea generation to deployment. He is not just a program manager. He is a negotiator, a coordinator, a communicator, and sometimes a mediator. He is a pioneer and is aware of the activities of all stakeholders and the impact of these activities on the final goal (deployment of a quality product according to the schedule and budget).
The basics of release management
Release management is the application of project management principles developed in managing the tasks of various organizations that lead to the deployment of a new software package (or upgrade of an existing package), using specific release processes.
To be successful, a release should have the following goals:
- Be settled on time
- meet the budget
- Have no impact on current customers or have a negligible impact
- To meet the needs of new customers, competitive pressure or technical developments
Applicable project management principles
According to the PMBOK Guide, there are eight areas of knowledge: scope, cost, time, resources, quality, communication, and contract.
All these areas of knowledge play a role in release management. In addition, the five process areas are an integral part of each release. They are: start, plan, execute, control, and close.
The main tasks of release management
Release management involves the involvement of many organizations with well-defined tasks. The main duties are listed below. They include:
- Needs identification, business case presentation/approval, feasibility/requirements definition
- Create documentation, design, development, lab/field testing, beta testing (customer)
- Change control, training, controlled deployment, general deployment, acquisition/closure, and transition to lifecycle management.
Below is a list of organizations that are responsible for publication. Some, such as legal, purchasing, and finance, are not members of the release team. However, they make decisions that have a major impact on release management and are often consulted by the release manager. They include:
- Sales, Marketing, Research, and Development (R&D), Systems Engineering, Test Engineering, Operations, Training, Program Management, Procurement, Finance, Billing, Customer Service, and Legal.
There are 9 specific processes for publication. Together with the PMBOK Guide to the five processes and eight knowledge areas, they form what is known as release management. The release processes are:
Product requests, release packaging, documentation, development, change control, training, customer testing, customer notification, and deployment. Both development and deployment have sub-processes. The sub-processes of development are laboratory and field tests and quality gates. The deployment sub-processes are controlled introduction, public availability, and withdrawal.
The role of some organizations in release management
If the need for new software is induced by customer demand, sales is the first group to raise the request. Sales work with marketing to formalize the request and initiate the product request (FPR) process. The FPR process is the mechanism through which functional departments can request development resources from R&D.
In addition, a sale is an important member of the publishing team. They are particularly involved in the training, testing, and customer notification phases.
Eye and ear marketing is a business unit. They know what their competitors are doing. They work with sales to create packages that make it easier for them to attract new customers. The marketing team also frequently requests upgrades to existing packages to retain existing customers.
They are an integral part of the publishing team.
Research and Development
Research and development is the main player. They are present in most of the release processes and provide the first cost and time estimate based on the product request. If approved, they must define requirements, create documentation, and design, and develop the requested functionality. They decide what can and cannot be done and how long it will take. The preliminary deployment schedule takes place based on their time estimate.
Testers work in coordination with research and development. They test R&D output against set criteria and are sort of software gatekeepers. Nothing happens until all pass-test criteria are met. Not only do testers ensure that new features work, but they also make sure that old features aren’t lost. Testers are part of the release team and report their progress or issues at each meeting.
They hold the wallet and control the publishing cost from start to finish. They approve or deny all fees and make decisions based on the best option for the business. Finance may decide not to fund the release because they think it’s too expensive or not in the best interest of the business. Oftentimes, their decision conflicts with sales and marketing goals, and negotiation or mediation is needed to resolve the dispute. Finance is not an active member of the publishing team, but may be called upon for acceptance.
Release management oversees the ever-changing progress of a project. Every release is an opportunity to tweak everything from workflows to checklists, as your team learns what roadmap is right for what type of release.
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