Release management is the process of planning, scheduling, deploying and controlling the software release, from development and testing through to production.
The release management process may vary and should be customized for each organization but the process consists mostly of the following sequences:
- Release Planning ensures that the software releases are planned with minimal downtime or impact on the business.
- Release Building is the assembling together of components to form the application.
- Quality Assurance.
- Release Deployment is the actual deployment of the software in the intended environment(s).
- Release Rollback is the rollback of a failed software release.
Sequence of Releases
This section describes the procedures and activities defined in the Release Management process.
The planning of releases begins with the creation of the release plan. A release plan is a roadmap that specifies about which features (or functionality) will be implemented and when they are completed and will be available to users.
The goal of a release plan is to help your team stay on track and ensure clear expectations about what is coming.
The release plan should include:
- Product scope
- Delivery date
- Requirements or Ressources
Once the plan is finalized and approved, the next process is to design and develop the features or functionalities for release.
This process requires development team to write the code that can implement the features or functionalities based on the requirements outlined in the release plan.
Once the Build is finalized, the release note is created.
The software is built into a test environment where it is subjected to functional and non-functional testing. This allows the Quality Assurance (QA) team to identify any bugs or issues that may arise in a production environment.
As QA team identifies issues or bugs, then the team sends the release back to development team for improvement.
After the QA team has made sure that the software is built as per the requirements and that there are no bugs or issues, the release will be deployed on the targeted or live environment.
Deployment is more than just installing the release. It entails training users or employees on how to use the software in the context of the new features so they can work with it without problem.
In case of important issues, the release will be rolled back, or the software or system will be restored to the previous state when it was working properly.
Types of Releases
Releases can be categorized based on whether they are planned or unplanned, on the sense of their urgency, or on the impact they have on the versioning of the software.
Releases announced in advance and for which there is a fix date. They typically have a cyclic pattern and are broad in scope.
Releases conducted outside the planned appointments. These may include code adjustments that, e.g. due to urgent implementations or scope, that cannot wait until the next major/planned Release.
An unplanned Release to restore the operational functionality of a service or address a critical risk. Releases having as scope the fixing of bugs, vulnerabilities, or other problems, typically implying a sense of urgency.
A planned Release that involves major changes to a system.
A Release that involves insignificant changes to a system, in general associated with changes that have low or medium impact on the system.
A Release that addresses primarily security vulnerabilities and other bugs, typically as follow up of another release.
Why is Release Management needed?
Software deployment is the most critical and high-risk phase in the software development cycle because it can directly affect software availability and consequently the continuity of the business.
The greater the complexity of the software is, the greater risk that something does not work as planned.
Release management ensures that new releases are smooth and don’t cause any major disruptions to the continuity of the business.
What does a Release Manager do?
The release manager as owner of the release management Process is the person responsible for planning, monitoring and performing releases in the environments in scope.
Here is complete coverage of a release manager’s roles and responsibilitie:
- understands the business needs and their priorities, and under what circumstances those priorities can change;
- ensures that policies and procedures are defined and enforced to support service delivery;
- ensures that the integrity of the test and production environments is protected, and that only previously tested components are rolled out;
- ensures that in the event of operation-impeding or non-critical operation defects, an emergency plan is available, and that the necessary measures will be taken to return the integrity of the systems and component to the previous state;
- ensures that releases are adequately documented;
- coordinates the releases, mediates the communication between the involved parties, and makes sure that issues are escalated through the appropriate channels;
- optimizes the release process according to business needs;
The primary goal of release management is to plan, schedule and control the deployment of software releases and updates into the live systems.
Plan and practice release management in your organization with the above-mentioned strategies and processes to see benefits yourself.