8 Proven Practices to Strengthen Your Enterprise Release Management Processes

Mar 17, 2016

Your IT team has adopted DevOps approaches to enable a faster and more reliable way to move initiatives between development teams and operations. However, you’re still witnessing inconsistent results despite a concerted effort to move towards continuous delivery. Why? Automating various steps of the application development process makes life easier for players in the various stages of application development and transition, but there’s one piece that is often overlooked—the glue that brings everything together—enterprise release management.

If you want to help your organization achieve true agility through DevOps, it’s critical that you facilitate the shift in perspective from release management as an endpoint to release management as a consistent end-to-end process. To do so, you have to strengthen your enterprise release management process.

Getting Enterprise Release Management Up to Speed: 8 Best Practices

You might be getting by with your complex spreadsheets and manual enterprise release management strategies for now, but your application portfolio will quickly outgrow these practices. Insatiable business demand, interdependent applications and distributed delivery team results means existing ways of managing releases are guaranteed to fail. Check out these 8 best practices to strengthen your critical release management function:

  1. Review Your Existing Process:This is more than just questioning why manually managing changes with spreadsheets isn’t a scalable approach. You must examine the team you’ve assembled and the tools you’ve provided them with. Improving release management requires more efficient, automated tools and teams willing to break down siloed organizational structures.

  2. Clearly Define Release Cycles: Increasing business pressure to constantly improve applications is forcing faster release cycles. Define whether you want to update every day, week or month, and use past cycles to learn for the future.

  3. Invest in the Right Release Management Team: Modern release management isn’t a job for one Director to take on alone. Create a team that consists of release, environment, test and implementation managers. These players need strong collaborators as they work across multiple functions and teams.

  4. Stay Ahead of the Planning Game: You might not know exactly which new features you’ll have to implement one year from now, but you should know when that release cycle will happen. Getting out ahead of the release schedule keeps you on a consistent track for feature changes. Define the release cadence for each of the different types of applications in your portfolio.

  5. Prioritize Based on Stakeholder Requests: Consistent release management provides a concrete base of information regarding which feature change your stakeholders want or need most. When releases only came once per month or quarter, feature prioritization was easy. Now it’s a much more difficult process that must be automated if you have any hope of pleasing stakeholders with successful changes.

  6. Make Your Pre-Production Environment a Priority: Speeding up your release cycles shouldn’t mean you take shortcuts, such as skating through pre-production testing. Bottlenecks in hardware, storage, network connections, bandwidth, etc. can be spotted in the pre-production environment to avoid costly release issues. However, the more complex your portfolio becomes, the harder it will be to manually attend each release’s pre-production environment.

  7. Gain Control Through All Release Stages: The change process requires the physical transfer of build packages between development teams from testing through validation. Understanding each package delivery with a transparent view of the entire release process can help cut down on re-work that inevitably delays rollout. Automate the governance between the various phases of delivery.

  8. There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Communication: Leave your siloed release management function behind. When you give every stakeholder in the release management process access to critical information, you can create a systematic way for stakeholders to see critical information in real-time. Real-time updates are essential for Directors of Release Management who are trying to maintain an increasingly complex portfolio of changes./li>

In short, strengthening your release management function can’t just be a matter of optimizing your spreadsheet approach. The typical manual spreadsheet strategy doesn’t enable metric analysis or efficient prioritization—two critical factors when speeding up the release management process. The need for a release management solution is becoming increasingly clear.

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