Releasing software may seem like the final and easiest part of the software development process, but there are still plenty of opportunities for missteps.
Faltering at this stage can cost the wider organization time and money.
That’s why the best software development teams have a rigorous system that plans, designs, schedules and tests software releases. This ensures new applications and updates meet business requirements without impacting the existing IT ecosystem.
In this article, we will look at:
- The importance of release management for mature development practices.
- What a solid release management process looks like.
- How we assess those practices as part of our application lifecycle management assessment.
Why Development Teams Need Strong Release Management Practices
Release management may be a relatively new software development discipline, but it is an important one. In fact, organizations can significantly improve the quality and speed of software updates by building a mature release management process.
At the same time, release management can significantly reduce the risk of launching updates or completely new applications, says Eze Onukwube at The QA Lead.
Two Ways to Assess Release Management
While release management lends itself more to larger organizations, development teams of any size should still have a written process in place for releasing software updates.
As such, our application lifecycle management assessment analyzes the processes, people and tools involved in this practice in the following two ways.
Release planning is the most intensive stage of the entire process. Teams should have a fairly standardized process for launching updates that they can follow each time a new update is required.
Specifically, we are looking for processes that increase interdepartmental cooperation. In these cases, there tend to be a lot of moving parts, and things can get easily missed, says Bill Clerici, CEO and partner at Kingsmen Software.
The same is true if you have one big product and multiple teams working on it. It’s vital that an update doesn’t break an existing piece of software. That’s why planning is essential.
Alongside a strong process for planning each release, we also look for clearly defined processes, tools and roles when it comes to actually releasing an update.
A written procedure or checklist is a key part of any release governance process. “By sharing this vital document with the team, and by granting editing permissions, every member has access to the formally defined release process,” says software engineer Lucas Mancini.
The goal is to ensure everyone one the team understands how the process works, and they feel empowered to improve upon it, Mancini writes. “This should bring transparency and allow the entire team to have real-time access to what’s going on during the release, what steps have been completed, and by whom.”
It also helps stakeholders and other non-technical executives decide whether to launch an update based on the outcome of the checklist.
Get Clarity Into Release Management With Kingsmen Software
Release management is the final part of our application lifecycle management assessment. Once our research is complete, we score development teams and color code our findings on a heatmap so you can see where a team needs improvement, and how they can make those improvements.