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Plutora Blog - Agile Release Management, Release Management

Top 3 Software Delivery Challenges that Release Management Solves

Reading time 4 minutes

Three characteristics drive the need to establish a single system of record. They are all related to the complications that accompany scale.

Gaps between Teams

Companies that benefit most from Release Management are large enterprises consisting of multiple departments, which span one or more business units, and are supported by one or more IT departments. Release Management is applicable for companies with over 100 direct participants in the software delivery lifecycle. If a company has more than three groups coordinating to deliver software with more than 100 direct participants, it is a prime candidate to benefit from a single system of record. Release Management provides a higher level of strategy to align personnel across departments and address obstacles and communication issues that may arise outside of individual groups.

Complex System and Interdependencies

Large, composite enterprise systems are characterized by the presence of multiple interdependent subsystems including both systems developed by internal application development teams and third-party services such as content delivery networks and payment gateways. These composite systems involve multiple, independent development groups often spanning several organizational structures both internal and external and subsystems are linked together in a hierarchy creating an overall enterprise architecture. Changes are rarely confined to single, isolated components in a composite system and when application features or services are implemented multiple components in a composite system are impacted simultaneously.

Complexity = Risk

High-risk industries such as e-commerce, government, and banking require a constant commitment to 24/7 availability. Uptime is the primary concern for a business designed to serve consumers and any organization of sufficient complexity is faced with the challenge of controlling the impact of software releases. As software releases are the primary source of downtime in most enterprises, there’s a special sensitivity and awareness when it comes to managing release-related risk. When contingency planning isn’t optional and when minutes of downtime or even transient downtime can impact the business a Release Management practice is focused on identifying and managing risks associated with multi-project deployments.

Why is Release Management the Right Solution?

Release Management is especially useful when an organization maintains systems so large that no one group fully understands the scope of the overall system. Release Management functions are designed to facilitate visibility across systems no matter the scope they cover. Examples include an e-commerce system implemented as a series of dedicated services including inventory, payment, and front-end website development.

Another example would be a large enterprise that has built a website that interacts with a CRM system such as PeopleSoft or Siebel.

Benefits of Release Management

With Release Management organizations can achieve real agility above the level of individual projects. When management functions are informed by feeds updated continuously and when multiple departments agree upon consolidated dashboards of release progress organizations can start focusing on efficient execution and avoid interrupting productive resources just to measure progress.

Unlocking the Organization: Tackling Complexity

The more teams, departments, and projects involved in a release the more likely it is that your release processes are approaching a fundamental complexity limit. Release Management is the only way to move past these organizational limits as it shifts the organizational and coordination challenges to tools that are automatically gathering data from systems that have been instrumented to provide updated snapshots of status and schedule.

As teams continue to drive toward continuous deployment the challenge of traditional project management approaches these limits of complexity. While “bottom-up” agility results in a dramatic project or department-wide improvements this approach doesn’t scale to the scope of an entire enterprise. Release Management provides a model to bring low-level agility to the portfolio level.

Visibility: Reality-based Management for the Enterprise

With Release Management IT portfolio managers and IT management have visibility into the progress of large-scale software projects. Without Release Management the best an organization can do is guess at the current status and risks.

Release Management is an always-on management function – it is release management integrated into the way projects and departments collaborate. It structures interactions and planning around a singular goal of delivering software.

Greater Alignment, Greater Agility: A New Way to Deliver Software

Release Management is a new way to coordinate and track what enterprises are already doing in a more focused manner. An enterprise already has multiple release managers each focused on individual projects, but many lack an overall initiative to encourage more continuous alignment between projects. The enterprise already maintains a calendar of release dates and plans business-functions accordingly. What most businesses lack is a more detailed view of this release calendar that can be used to mitigate risk.

Do you want to learn more about Release Management? Download our free white paper: What is Enterprise Release Management?