How to Implement Release Management Efficiently with Modern Solutions?

How to Implement Release Management Efficiently with Modern Solutions?

A lot goes on behind the scenes to successfully release software. Competitive pressures and technological advancements are ever-growing in our day and age. Therefore, release management exists to help organizations with software release complexities.  

Are you keeping up?

How are you keeping up? 

Good management of the release process makes the more difficult parts a lot smoother. However, this takes a team effort and being equipped with the correct tools to continue using continuous development, testing, deployment, and maintenance of software releases. Read on to find out more about how you can implement release management efficiently.

How to Implement Release Management Efficiently - 10 Things to Do

We know from our What is Release Management article that this is the process that oversees software development, testing, deployment, and release. It’s important to keep in mind that release management aims to maintain the integrity of a live production environment and release software components accurately. Here’s how you implement release management efficiently:

Plan the planning stage

Structure your entire release into a release plan from start to finish. This is the most time-intensive part of the process, and therefore, the most important. A well-put-together release plan will help keep your team on track and ensure that you meet the required standards, especially considering that process visibility is one of the most common challenges when putting together such a plan. Stakeholders and relevant team members often lose track of release timings and who does what. 

A more popular release management method is the systems development life cycle (SDLC). The SDLC helps developers plan, develop, maintain, and replace software systems efficiently and with a high degree of quality. Create a workflow that can be referred back to throughout the process and includes: 

  • timelines
  • delivery dates
  • requirements 
  • the overall scope of the project.

A release management checklist, like this example here, is an excellent way to map out the process (and not having one is another common pitfall). One small timing issue or a simple error can affect the entire release once pushed to the public. The checklist should outline the responsibilities of each team member and each process function. Once a plan is finalized, present it to relevant stakeholders, such as your team, the product manager, and leaders, to receive feedback about any gaps or problems that may exist. Put the plan in action once it’s approved.

Coordinate with departments 

Your approved plan is nothing without coordination between the many departments within the organization. Developers code, QA performs checks, while Operations manage branches to prepare the build for deployment. You need a way to communicate any changes internally, otherwise, you may run into the following issues:

  • salespeople will be confused when they show customers demos that have feature changes
  • the support team will be unable to answer questions relating to the product 
  • customers won’t get answers to their questions if you haven’t used release notes or help center articles to communicate the changes to them. 

Always identify your stakeholders and engage them frequently throughout the process through their preferred communication channel - meetings, emails, or a chat channel. 84% of IT professionals say that if stakeholders had better visibility into their systems’ infrastructure and performance metrics, their apps would have better availability and performance. With Environment as a Service (EaaS), you get more visibility at every step of the process, increasing productivity and offering complete flexibility when making any changes to the app. Stakeholders will become a part of the process while rework is significantly reduced. 

Understand your requirements

Although it seems like a simple thing to do, make sure your team doesn’t forget about things like device and browser compatibility and compatibility with the previous software version. Additionally, ensure that you’re using only authorized, safe, and appropriately licensed software from the definitive media library (DML) for software deployments. 

Have a release policy

Release management doesn’t work without a good release policy. Consider the following when creating one:

  • Release identification - ensure the right package deploys to the right area
  • Frequency - address how many releases you need, whether you will have a Waterfall or Agile approach, ensure timeframes and proper expectations are in your policy to set how often new releases deploy to your environments
  • Requirements - what needs to be considered before release
  • Governance - to further support the release management process, decide who can authorize which release (for example, which ones need a higher level of approval).  

Invest in people 

Your tools, plans, policies, and everything in place still don’t mean anything without the team’s commitment. Without maximizing each of your team members’ value or motivating them, getting the desired results becomes another challenge. So you must invest in people and offer hands-on training with a reward system in place. 

This is where an Environment as a Service solution can really come in handy. An EaaS allows your teams, from developers to product managers to QA, to collaborate by simplifying otherwise tedious and hard-to-scale tasks. It also allows you to offer online training environments for your team anytime, anywhere. Take a look at our How to Build a High-Velocity Development Team article to see more ways you can build a development team the right way.

Automate with Environment as a Service

We know that the best way to manage releases is to have your team spend more time on important things such as strategic thinking rather than on tedious, mundane tasks. You must automate everything you possibly can. Automation allows you to create templates and reuse scripts, thus reducing duplication. It may be expensive to do at first but will be well worth it in the long run. An EaaS solution reduces the likelihood of human error and the amount of extra work that goes into releases by automating what you need. 

Remember, if you absolutely can’t automate, standardize everything you use instead. Ensure you agree to script, testing, and documentation templates for consistency.

Continue with continuous deployment

If done right, continuous deployment is one of the advanced ways to guarantee quality releases. You’ll accelerate the feedback you receive from your customers or stakeholders and take pressure off of your team. Developers can focus on building software while their tested and verified code goes live in a one-click deployment process. It’s highly recommended to continuously govern your strategies if your team uses continuous deployment.  

Implement user acceptance testing 

User acceptance testing (UAT) is one of the most important steps to release management. It’s also a process that can be automated to ensure optimum release quality and enable testing to ensure bugs don’t infiltrate processes. EaaS can help immensely when automating user acceptance testing. When there are issues and bugs, your development team will redesign the build to ensure higher integrity. The build must always pass the UAT to move on to the final implementation and release, making it an essential step in the entire release management process.  

Use the right release management tools

Release management tools lead to the release of apps becoming faster and more frequent. They help with the development, testing, deployment, and support of software releases. Since we’ve mentioned ways in which to make your release management process more efficient, we’ll list some of the top tools to use in this process:

Or work with an EaaS solution that can integrate all of these.

Deploy it

The time has come to release your product to the production (live) environment. The deployment stage includes product education for the end-user and your organization. Notify users of any changes and how to use the new features, and encourage ongoing training if significant changes occur. For internal releases, product education is essential because employees need to understand the software they’re using to be productive and efficient. 

During the deployment stage, the team should also come together to review and discuss how the deployment went. If there were any issues, they must be documented so the team can address them in the next iteration.  

Release the Power of EaaS

Releases are becoming more frequent and are therefore more complex. Sometimes, teams struggle to keep up with the release cycle. This has led to a need for automation, coordination, and faster solutions. That’s why it’s crucial to focus on an efficient release management process. 

Bunnyshell offers the perfect EaaS solution for automating your processes to increase speed, invest in your people, and help you use all the right tools to aid you in keeping up with more frequent and faster deployments. 

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