Posted by: Jeff Timmins | October 11, 2010

RM as Air Traffic Control

How does a Release Manager manage constant and multiple changes for multiple Applications/Services?

Related to my previous post on the Basics of Release Management for SaaS is the analogy of RM as the Air Traffic Control.

Managing changes for 1 Application/Service is easy compared to managing it for 10 or even more.  Some companies will have multiple Release Managers, each one taking around 5 change sources, while others will have one Release Manager for 25+ change sources.

Regardless of how many Release Managers a company has, there needs to be one person assigned to the “Air Traffic Control lead” position for the company.  I’ve never been in a tower but have seen enough Airplane movies that “I know” there are more than just one person working on plane landing and take-off.   In the tower there is one person who accountable (see RACI model).  The same goes for RM – there are a lot of people working on the Releases but one person needs to track the master schedule for all changes.

The reasons are simple – multiple changes on the same product leads to more difficult trouble-shooting, especially if you don’t know there were multiple changes!  Best practices for change is you to apply one at a time to minimize system failure and customer impact.

That said, SaaS Applications/Services require continual change so “planes” do not backup for long periods of times.  Changes need to keep coming in a controlled and safe manor or the value of the change never gets to the customer.

It is really that simple, Release is the balance of allowing just enough change to support value but not enough change to create an unstable environment.  The challenge is knowing where the planes are at any given time and where each plane will be landing.



  1. […] RM but finally decided to dedicate a resource to RM.  At this point the RM person is more of Air Traffic Controlresource as well as coordinating the integrated RM roles through-out the company.  This is a lot of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: