Posted by: Jeff Timmins | October 1, 2013

Release Manager responsibilites

An example of the responsibilities of a Release Manager

Document brief

The following document covers what might be used for a Release Management process at a Services company. Originally I was going to present this as another Release Manager Charter but this is more of a description of possible responsibilities for a Release Manager supporting a high-rate of change.

Introduction

Release Management is becoming a more mature process and with that becoming somewhat standardized but there are still a lot of variance in the role. Different companies choose to implement the RM role in different ways and because of that I’m sharing yet another way of slicing up the RM responsibilities for deploying software to Production systems.

My goal is not that you simply copy and paste this as your own processes (full disclosure – okay that would be nice but it is unlikely that I got it exactly right for your needs) but that you will review this and take the parts that make sense for your organization.

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Release Manager Role Responsibilities

Facilitate process and track dependencies

  • Facilitate – ensure code changes move through the Pre-Production process on schedule and resolve issues as they arise
  • Dependencies – understand how dependencies impact a given Release and mitigate by communication and/or adjusting schedules

Represent Operations standards during planning, development & deployment

  • Represent – understand & communicate the needs of the Operations Team related to changes
  • Enforce – stop processes that don’t adhere to standards before it is too late

Ensure desired, predictable, documented deployments in a controlled & safe manner

  • Desired – only code that was expected and approved is deployed
  • Predictable – approved/expected and repeatable deployment plan used
  • Documented – details of what is changing, purpose of changes (when applicable) and the new end-user experience (when new features are added or existing features are radically changed) are noted &  posted in the required locations
  • Controlled & Safe – changes to all environments but most importantly Production are carefully deployed for the purpose of protecting the interest of the client and/or end-user
  • Overall goal – being the Gatekeeper for what is installed into Production systems

Review & improve processes 

  • Review – understand current processes and procedures for Releases & confirm documentation is accurate
  • Improve – continually evaluate processes for improvement and update documentation after they have been accepted in order to adapt as the company & client needs mature

Ensure communication to internal & external customers

  • Internal customers – guarantee internal customers are aware of the progress of the scheduled changes during the Pre-Production phase and aware of the Production change before it takes place as well as after it is confirmed
  • External customers – as needed and as acceptable, guarentee external customers are informed of the changes being delivered

Release Manager Role Details

Release Organization & Communication
Managing all Release schedules at high-level for visibility, timing & dependencies

  • List Schedules
    • Monitor Global Company schedule of events (shows, demos, fun events, etc.)
    • Add all Changes to Production environments to the Release Calendar
  • Communicate changes & understanding dependencies
    • Facilitate regularly schedule meeting to identify dependencies between various groups in order that each group understands what the other groups are releasing
    • Maintain a high-level understanding of all changes in order to help enforce dependencies between changes in the organization
    • Communicate cutoff times and status of scheduled releases to internal customers

Release Planning 
Ensuring safe & well planned changes for Production

  • Understanding & Managing the change
    • Chicken in status meetings (as they meet separately) for details, status, plans & issue updates
    • As needed, help manage Project plans w/PMO for each separate group to keep schedules moving along
    • Confirm that Releases are “planned for success” before they start (i.e. Sprint Planning)
    • Sponsor/facilitate stand-up meetings to understand project status with the main goal of reducing the amount of late addition requests
  • Collecting & documenting the details of the Release
    • Creating documents or reports to link scheduled changes together
    • Manage the Release Handoff documentation (from Dev to Test to Ops), ensuring the information is completed in a timely basis, that it includes are the required information and it is approved. Below is an example of what might be included in the document:
      • QA test plan & results
      • All Database changes
      • Known issues/Bugs found (but not fixed) during test
      • Information or links to information of included code changes and/or projects
      • Changes in system architecture related and/or dependencies to the code changes
      • (Typically only for Emergency Releases) Details of Support Ticket(s) resolved
      • Deployment details needed for Operations Team
      • Expected customer impact related to changes
    • Ensure the completion of Release Notes, typically including the information above
    • Coordinate which internal resources will be available for the scheduled change
  • Application for Change to Production for the Change Control Review (CCR) board to review for Release approval
    • Create draft of document or CCR ticket, this way it will most likely confirm that the scheduled Release is on-target for deployment
    • For scheduled deployments, work with Product owners to reserve time(s) in monthly schedule as needed
    • For off-scheduled deployments, work with Product/Project owner to establish a date & time that is available in the schedule and then help them apply for the deployment as needed
    • Confirm CCR ticket is updated with the required information
    • Apply to Change Control Review board to review the CCR ticket for approval
  • Lead Go/No-Go meeting
    • Meeting to review approval and answer questions regarding the release

Release Coordination during deployment
Ensuring delivery of a safe & successful change

  • Prep for Deploy
    • Responsible for leading deployment Prep meetings
    • Responsible for scheduling people resources & food as needed
    • Publish Release notes
  • During Deploy
    • Coordinate deployment activities during deploy window
    • Responsible for Start, Stop, Rollback & signally the completion of the deployment
  • Post Deploy
    • Document & communicate the state of the Release
    • As needed, responsible for any follow-up on issues found during deployment – for Failures and Rollbacks collect requirements for post deploy fixes
    • Post deployment Review (a.k.a. Lessons Learned) with all involved to cover what went well and what can be improved on going forward

Release Management Standards
Creating standards and defining details related to Release Management

  • Release Handoff – detailing acceptance in quick & efficient manner
  • Deployment activity standards – creating templates for what is typically accomplished in a Release
  • Release Windows – with assistance from Change Control Manager establish a standard for each type of deployment
  • Release Information
    • Release and CCR ticket standards (so they are easily approved)
    • Standardize by creating templates as needed
    • Publish to the rest of the company on intranet/Wiki

 

 

 

 

 

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