What is Enterprise Release Management?
Whilst it is common to think of Release Management as the final promotion of a component into a production environment we take a far broader view of the release management process ranging from the strategy of establishing quarterly, monthly or fortnightly release windows, prioritising the contents of each release, understanding the complex dependencies, and tracking delivery as they meet the integrated delivery targets.
Enterprise Release Management also encompasses aligning the necessary non-production or test environments to support the coordinated release strategy. What defines the Enterprise Release Management process is the coordinated promotion of new functionality into existing production environments on a specified date. Enterprise Releases can vary significantly in their size and composition and could include:
- New systems or major function blocks delivered through major programs or projects.
- Routine minor enhancements in the form of Business as Usual (BAU) change requests.
- Minor defect fixes in the form of Business as Usual (BAU) service requests.
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The ultimate objective of Enterprise Release Management is to control the flow of change into production. Enterprise Release Management is an essential function for all organisations that are continually implementing substantial IT programs or are on a path of continuous improvement. Growing and dynamic companies will continual adjust their IT systems to ensure they are aligned to customer acquisition, customer service and other growth prospects. As such, the Release Management process is not an essential function for static IT organizations.
Enterprise Release Management Success Factors
At the end of the day, there are a myriad of factors that contribute to the success or failure of your Enterprise Release Management. That being said, over the course of many year, a lot of experience, and data review, I’ve isolated 8 Key Performance Indicators that predict Release Management success. These are:
1. Review the Existing Enterprise Release Management Process
2. Set an Enterprise Release Strategy that clearly defines Regular Release Cycles
The frequency of these windows is typically monthly or quarterly and is driven by responsiveness required by customers as well as the complexity of the IT environment. The most successful Enterprise Release Management functions are those that are exercised regularly and tweak their processes slightly each release based on the lessons they learn.
3. Invest in the right people to be custodians of the Enterprise Release Function.
The key personnel that participate in a successful release function, which is concerned with managing the smooth path of new features or changes through the various pre-production transitions include the Release Manager, Environment Manager, Test Manager and Implementation Manager
4. Provide as much transparency as possible
5. Engage Stakeholders through prioritisation and release composition
6. Optimize Test Environment Usage
In a complex, integrated and secure environment this is no trivial matter and requires thorough planning, understanding of interdependencies, alignment of specialist skill-sets and a propensity for resolving conflicts between competing initiatives. Critical environment bottlenecks must be eliminated early before they hold up delivery.
7. Control the activity through release stages
8. Continuous Communication
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