Release Management Best Practices
Software is unusual in that it’s usually invisible. Building an application isn’t like building a house; it’s not obvious at a glance whether the finished product is elegant or even acceptable. Release management best practices should make it possible to see what’s happening with the entire release process. Release management verifies that release priorities are properly assigned, that the components of a release are properly orchestrated, that stakeholders have an opportunity to provide input into the process, and that projects are streamlined. Release management best practices include:
Release the right applications
Most release packages should be designed to save money or increase revenue. Improvements ought to have real benefits for your organization and be based on business cases. Clarity about the intended benefits of a release assists in all stages of planning. Other release management best practices aren’t helpful if the right applications aren’t deployed. If a project is done incrementally, completing the highest priority items first makes for very happy users.
Manual processes are error prone, time consuming, and expensive, while automated releases are predictable and dependable. An automated process takes less time to setup and run—some companies are releasing software updates several times per minute!—but quality and consistency are never compromised.
Go fast (but proceed with caution)
Fast feedback provides an abundance of benefits. It’s not possible to see how on target a new upgrade or feature is until it’s installed, and updates are not providing any benefits when they’re waiting to be released. If there’s a delay in getting feedback, the person responsible for problems may not remember the project well enough to benefit from the feedback or to make a useful contribution to the solution. Fast feedback also means the project can be evaluated based on real data, not guesstimates and projections. Time to market is shorter. However, fast feedback is only possible in an environment with excellent repeatable and automated release procedures.
Make release procedures repeatable
It’s a release management best practice to make release procedures repeatable. Deploying the same way to every environment is ideal; when the release procedure itself is trusted, it’s easier to diagnose problems that may arise. A procedure that’s not repeatable doesn’t scale and doesn’t produce useful metrics.
Think about what could go wrong
Identify the risks of the project and decide on tactics to mitigate them.
Involve all interested parties
People from various disciplines who have a stake in the process should meet at project inception and throughout the project. Everyone should be kept in the loop with an effective notification system that gets critical information to the people who need it in a timely fashion.
Have criteria for a successful process
When is a release considered complete? There should be a clear understanding of what success looks like for each release and how it will be measured.
Rocket Aldon ALM provides tools to automate the entire release cycle from service request to final deployment. It gives management all the information it needs to optimize IT and supports collaboration with up-to-date information that’s readily available to all teams. Rocket Aldon tools make all aspects of a release process transparent and traceable. It keeps track of all items and ensures that every release includes the proper versions of the proper components.
Release management best practices get a younger organization off on the right foot and can rejuvenate an older organization, making it as frisky as a young startup. Streamlining release procedures makes an entire enterprise sleeker and better able to respond instantly to changing market conditions, and collaborative procedures strengthen not just IT, but the whole company.