Depending on your organization, you may or may not have a formalized release management process. Currently you may be handling this through some other process entirely, but the real question is whether you are managing releases, or are they managing you?
In some cases we aren’t even sure if we are doing things in a way that satisfies business needs. Think about the mode at which you are deploying what you may currently call releases. Are they going at a rapid rate, or are they going as slow as molasses in winter? There is nothing wrong with either so long as the end result is more smiling faces on the business end rather than the opposite. Understanding what YOUR organization is doing is an important first step.
From here what some organizations say is that the managing of release from scratch is really hard, but the trick is to make it as simple as you want. Start out with a specific portfolio of services that you want to include in your release process – watch out for scope creep! Once you know what you are including you will be able to prioritize the release and generate better planning.
Get into a rhythm; cadence is key. Figure out what works for you and your business. It might be quarterly, monthly, weekly or more often. The key is to ensure that you can manage what is in the release throughout the lifecycle from planning to deployment.
The focus of release management is to ensure that you are integrating all components of people, process and technology across your organization to produce consistent results for each release. Being able to control the regular flow of releases improves the likelihood of business satisfaction with the end result.
In order to do this you need to make sure that you are validating progress in each of the stages, including planning, design, development, and deployment into production.
While there are several, here are a few items to address at each stage:
- Make sure the development and operations teams are included and involved in planning.
- Ensure that any system requirements have been reviewed and are understood by all stakeholders.
- Ensure that the entire IT team has been notified of the upcoming deployment, and is aware of the activities.
- Has all the business input been reviewed and shared amongst the stakeholders where it applies?
- Is the service desk ready for the upcoming deployment?
- Have we reviewed all the deliverables to validate completion?
- Ensure all the tests are finalized.
- Have SLAs been reviewed where they apply?
Overall, before we get ready to deploy into production we should have a document that checks off and validates the following:
- What does the backup schedule look like?
- What is the business continuity plan?
- A completed network and infrastructure diagram for all environments
- Any security requirements have been addressed.
- All of the hardware and software has been installed and a list of the assets
- Has the release had the appropriate level of communications?
- Has training been provided where necessary?
- Are staffing levels appropriate for the deployment from support including the service desk and various tiers?
Being able to address the simple questions will better position you and your teams to handle releases before they handle you.
For more brilliant insights, check out Ryan’s blog: Service Management Journey