Posted by: Jeff Timmins | October 6, 2011

When Release Management is not RM

As I have mentioned in the past, there are different flavors and different labels for Release Management (RM). Added to that list of “different” are practices that are labeled RM but are more Release Coordination. Don’t get me wrong, coordination is great and better to have it then not but it is only a part of RM full-meal-deal.

A good Litmus test for RM is how new technology is introduced to people outside of Development. Do it well and you get the Release Management seal of approval + in my book you can call your process RM. Skip the step and you should change your name to something like Release Coordination.

An example of a new technology project is adding new hardware, new software & a new Operating System into a Production environment. This could be something like a Business Intelligence solution, a new Web Service or splitting up the Database into multiple layers.

In general, the introduction that a Release Manager would provide would be targeted to the Production staff – i.e. the people that supports the technology in Production. This would include the technical details of project and what is needed to be able to support it.  When new technologies are created, typically everyone in Development and QA know about them because it takes a large effort to get it off the ground. The challenge becomes getting that information to the “outside world.” Thus the need for the Release Manager to bridge the gap to Production support.

In particular, that introduction would include some of the following:

  • What is the new technology all about?
  • When is this scheduled to go into Production?
  • Who supports this when it is in Production?
  • Does the Production support staff need training on the new Operating System (e.g. Linux added to a all Windows environment) to be comfortable enough to support the new Servers? If so where will the training come from?
  • Does the Production support staff need training on the new Application/Tool Set to support the added functionality? If so where will the training come from?
  • Time needs to be provided for the Production staff to review the internal development documentation related to the project in order to understand ins and outs of supporting it.
  • Release team needs to train Customer Support team on details they need to know.
  • In addition, the Information would be provided in a timeline that would allow for learning to be comfortably added to their already busy schedule.

With this type of thorough introduction, Production support personnel would have the tools and information to make themselves successful. When you don’t have a successful Production support group, you don’t have much.

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