7 Critical Success Factors when Establishing a Release Management Office

Feb 25, 2016

The executive concern regarding software development used to revolve around the choice between a waterfall approach or agile teams. Now, the development world is almost decidedly convinced that agile is the way to go. With agile projects seeing 350% to 600% greater success than waterfall development (depending on project size), who could argue with the agile approach?Despite much higher project success rates with agile development, IT operations still experience failure at times. Even in agile environments, projects still see up to 23% failure rates and the majority of releases experience challenges that lead to costly delays.There’s more to modern development challenges than just the choice between agile and waterfall—the growing complexity of your business systems and applications has a major impact as well. There’s more pressure than ever to speed up release cycles, changing software every hour, day or week instead of every month or quarter.

If you want to overcome release cycle challenges as your application portfolio becomes more complex, you need to establish a dedicated release management office — here’s what it takes.

The 7-Step Guide to a Successful Release Management Office

Much like when waterfall approaches to development became an obvious roadblock to success, typical release management strategies are starting to show signs of aging. Follow these 7 steps to redefine your release management office:

  • Admit You Have a Problem: The first step to solving any problem is recognizing you have one in the first place. It’s just not practical to manage hundreds of spreadsheets manually. The more spreadsheets you add, the harder it becomes to manage release cycles and the risk associated with application changes. Recognize traditional manual release management is a problem and you can begin the process of implementing a dedicated office.

  • What’s the Core Vision? Take the time to explain your plan for release management to the team. With more proactive management of risk and build quality, you can accelerate active decision making.

  • Define Essential Metrics: Any good release management function is founded on actionable data. Your old, manual release management isn’t conducive to know which metrics you should be tracking to gather the data necessary to improve release success rates. Not sure which metrics are necessary? We’ve already discussed 10 of them!

  • Know Your Release Cadence: The frequency of releases depends on the type of application you’re changing. For tier one, core applications, you’ll want to maintain a slower cadence with lower risk. However, your mobile apps can withstand a quicker pace and higher risk.

  • Keep Key Stakeholders in the Loop: From the lowest level developers to the upper echelon of executives, stakeholders should know how releases are progressing. With endlessly complex spreadsheets, it’s almost impossible to achieve the level of communication necessary for release success. A dedicated release management office can clear the lines of communication between stakeholders.

  • Establish a Clear Governance Structure: The developers completing sprints for each release must have an organizational structure in place to facilitate transparency and visibility. If it’s clear to see the risk associated with each change, you’ll see fewer release failures.

  • Of Course, Assemble the Right Team: When you’re trying to change the release culture in your organization, it won’t help to assemble a team of introverted players interested in creating silos in the process. Create a team with the characteristics necessary for delivering the outcomes you want.

Unclogging the Bottleneck to DevOps Success

Release management is only one part of your larger DevOps plans — but it’s an important one. Without a modern way to approach release management, you’ll be left with a crippling mess of spreadsheets even more unmanageable than what you might have now. Assembling a dedicated release management office is a key to success on a grander DevOps scale.

You’ve already automated so many aspects of your development process — why not take that mindset and apply it to release management? Contact Plutora and discover how our Continuous Delivery Management Platform can simplify your increasingly complex portfolio of application changes.

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