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Plutora Blog - Release Management, Test Environment Management

Assessing Your Maturity: Plutora’s CMM for Release Management

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The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) has become an essential tool for assessing IT initiatives.  Originally developed to assess the capabilities of government subcontractors in the 1990s, the CMM is now used by IT management to define best practices in a particular practice area.  From Application Development to Database Management every practice in the IT department can be ranked against these models.

A CMM for a particular initiative will have a series of disciplines matched with a series of practices defining relative maturity.  For example,

  • A department that has well-documented deployments to production, a team of cross-trained release engineers, and post-implementation reviews for deployment activities is said to be at the highest level of maturity – Level 5 or Optimizing.  
  • A department that reliant on individual, late-night heroics when performing undocumented deployments is said to be at the lowest level of maturity – Level 1 or Regressive.

Between these grades is Repeatable, Consistent, and Quantitative. Within a department you might be Consistent in Release Management and Regressive in Environment Management.  CMMs are not KPIs they are at a higher level and they provide a more subjective measure of performance.

Plutora’s CMM for for Release Management

We’ve used our experience with Release Management (RM) and Environment Management (EM) across all industries and at the largest scales to define a CMM for RM and EM providing a set of questions our customers can use to assess their own maturity. We’ve also created the tool you’ll need to start measuring and assessing your department’s performance.  

Plutora has broken down Release, Environments, and Deployments into Stakeholder Management, Release Management, Environment Management, Deployment Management, and Reporting, and we’ve provide processes and practices to illustrate levels of maturity for each discipline.

Capability Maturity Model for Release Management and Environment Mangement

Capability Maturity Model for Release Management and Environment Management

Regressive organizations are characterized by individual heroics and reliance on undocumented process and optimizing organizations are organization with automated, will-measured processes undergoing constant optimization.

In the Matrix shown above we identified characters or processes, which are associated with each level of maturity in our five disciplines. We’ve also identified five key opportunities for organizations to upgrade each discipline.

Observations Across Industries: The Norm in Regressive

I’ve seen a lot of release process, and I’ve seen a large number of companies managing environments, and the observation I come away with is that many of the release processes and deployment procedures in the wild are Repeatable and Consistent at best and Regressive at worst.

Most organizations (especially those that have moved into DevOps without a good strategy) are still heavily reliant on individual heroics to successfully manage environments and complete releases.  Many organizations have embraced automation for new applications, but have failed to migrate existing applications to modern approaches automated deployment.  Every organization we speak to without Plutora installed tends to lack stakeholder engagement or reporting solutions related to environments and releases.

Five Immediate Opportunities for Improvement

In our CMM we’ve identified five immediate opportunities for improvement:

  1. Value-based release reporting based on Director portfolios.  This is one of the key differentiators of Plutora’s product. Our system can model the organization and give an IT department a way to measure the performance of groups under the management of a particular Director.   This allows you to communicate success or failure as it relates to environments, releases, and deployments, and it gives you the opportunity to identify, which Directors are fully-engaged in addressed release and environment issues versus those who are not.  Stakeholder engagement is critical when making sure that developers don’t just throw software over a wall and expect it to be managed without involvement, and Plutora gives directors the right idea when it can roll up issues of problems for a specific release.
  2. Measure Release Management financials. I’ve found it surprising in my own work across every industry, but companies are very rarely keeping track of the financial impact of a release.  How long does it take?  How many people are involved? And, even a simple question such as, “What is the financial impact of a 50 person incident call related to a release?”  Plutora gives you the ability to generate a report so you can understand just how much effort and how many resources go into a software release.
  3. Use Plutora’s Environment Management module. Clearly, we’re biased, but I’ve also haven’t seen anything in the market that comes close to the feature we offer for environment management, and I know from what I’ve seen that environment management is the biggest problem many of our customers face.  Now that companies can spin up 12-20 environments per application at the same time IT departments are being asked to manage more and more projects in massive IT portfolios. I’m talking to environment managers who are in charge of hundreds of environments.  Instead of managing these by change with a manual spreadsheet use Plutora to get a handle on the effort so that you can plan and mature your environment management function from a regressive to an optimizing level of maturity.
  4. Implement Deployment Planning and Master Plan.  Releases always tend to just “come together” at the last minute and software is unpredictable, but budgets demand more predictability.  If you mature your process by creating a deployment plan you’ll understand just how important it is to mature your process and move away from a reliance on heroic individuals to make the difference.
  5. Perform Stakeholder Target Reporting for Release Management Clients.   We refer back to the previous item, in an IT department the release and environment management function support the work of Directors.  If directors can be given the information they need and indirectly the business they support can be given targeted reports it will make it easier for the organization to engage with release and environment management.

To learn more about how Plutora has been designed to help move organizations further toward “Optimizing” on the CMM.  Contact us today.

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