Enterprise Release Management – The Bridge between Corporate Strategy & DevOps

OCT, 2022

*Original 2017

by Niall Crawford.

 

Author Niall Crawford

 Niall is the Co-Founder and CIO of Enov8. He has 25 years of experience working across the IT industry from Software Engineering, Architecture, IT & Test Environment Management and Executive Leadership. Niall has worked with, and advised, many global organisations covering verticals like Banking, Defence, Telecom and Information Technology Services.

 

Enterprise Release Management (ERM) is a process and set of practices that enable an organization to manage and control the releases of the software and other changes in its production environment. The goal of ERM is to ensure that changes are released in a controlled and safe manner, minimizing the disruption to normal business operations.

ERM is typically overseen by a centralized Release Management team, whose members are responsible for coordinating and orchestrating the release process. In most organizations, the Release Management team works closely with other key groups such as Development, QA/Testing, Operations, and Business Analysts.

 

Enov8 Enterprise Release Manager

*Innovate with Enov8

Streamline delivery of IT change through embracing “Scaled Agile” best practice.

According to Wikipedia, Enterprise Release Management (ERM) can be defined as A multi-disciplinary IT governance framework for managing software delivery & software change across multiple departments in a large organization. ERM builds upon release management & combines it with other aspects of IT management including Business-IT alignment, IT service management, IT Governance, and Configuration management. 

However, I’d like to describe it slightly less verbosely, or more simply.

  • Enterprise Release Management is the “Bridge between Corporate Strategy & DevOps”.

 

Enov8 Release Manager, Manage your Delivery Phases & Quality Gates: Screenshot

At enov8, we see Enterprise Release Management, a role of the Release Managers, as the overarching “release process” governance mechanism for bringing digital change from cradle (i.e. executive stakeholder conception) to grave (i.e. a successful release into production).

An approach that ensures the corporate needs of the business are understood, prioritized, and scoped and ultimately follow a controlled path through the various phases of the IT delivery lifecycle (including resource management, development, system testing, user acceptance testing, and deployment) and ultimately into production environment itself.

The Release Management Process

Referring to the above ERM Use Case (Release Management Process), the key activities involved in Enterprise Release Management include:

  1. Defining the key business objectives i.e. goals for next period Whom: Key Stakeholders e.g. CxOs, business executives & strategists
  2. Articulating these business objectives via an enterprise release plan Whom: Senior IT management, enterprise release (or portfolio management)
  3. Identifying (scoping) the discrete projects that will achieve these release outcomes Whom: enterprise release & project managers
  4. Establishing key milestones for these projects to ensure cross team alignment & tracking Whom: enterprise release & project managers
  5. Establishment of gates to ensure that each project meets necessary delivery objectives Whom: enterprise release & project managers
  6. Identify the key IT resource (including system) to ensure readiness & avoid contentions Whom: enterprise release, project managers, test environment managers & system owners
  7. Development & Test Phase Planning Whom: project managers, solution delivery managers, test managers
  8. Implementation / Deployment Planning Whom: project managers, test environment managers & deployment managers
  9. The Release Operations (Deployment Management). The Engineering tasks are ideally streamlined via standardizing & automating build activities, packaging, deployment & test.
  10. Deployment / package tracking Whom: test environment managers & configuration managers

All of which fall under the watchful eye of the Release Manager, and are supported by the relevant actors of the software development life cycle.

Key Release Actors

The Key Actors involved in Enterprise Release Management and ensuring successful software releases into our production environments are:

  • Executive Stakeholders
  • Business Executives
  • Corporate Strategy Team
  • IT Management
  • Enterprise Release Managers
  • Project Managers
  • Solution Delivery Managers
  • Test Environment Manager
  • Configuration Managers
  • Deployment Managers
  • Engineering / Software Developers

Evolving Role of the Release Manager

The role of the Release Manager has been evolving over time and will continue to do so as enterprises adopt new digital delivery methodologies such as DevOps.

Traditionally, the role of the Release Manager was to oversee the entire release process from end to end.

However, with the adoption of DevOps, the role of the Release Manager has shifted to focus more on the strategic aspects of release management, such as release planning and coordination, while the operational tasks associated with release management are handled by the DevOps team.

In a nutshell, the role of the Release Manager is to ensure that the right changes are made to the right systems at the right time, in a coordinated and controlled manner.

This shift in focus has led to the emergence of a new role known as the DevOps Release Manager, whose primary responsibility is to manage the operational tasks, and deployment management tasks, associated with release management.

Release Management Tooling

Managing your end-to-end release process, and ensuring a successful release, is fraught with danger.

Many things could be missed or go wrong, and if done incorrectly, a rogue software release process could lead to production issues, outages, and unhappy customers.

Using tools (a Release Management System) to control your “software release processes” and “implementation day events” can uplift visibility, improve collaboration, promote rehearsal, standardize your release operations and also streamline and automate the tasks.

Fortunately, various Release Management tools can help your organization with the various aspects of Release Management & Application Deployment.

An effective Release Management System will include features like:

  • Release Management Governance for Scaled Agile Delivery*

*Managing your End-to-End Release / Release Train.

  • Deployment Plans (aka Implementation Plans) to guide implementation day activities
  • ITSM / Incident & Change Management Process
  • Software Release Standardized Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Software Release Automation
  • Orchestrations / Integration with other tools*

*deployment tools, ticketing tools, CI/CD i.e. continuous integration, and continuous delivery tools

  • Software Release Version Tracking

*tracking your software release across your Test Systems, Components & Microservices.

  • Test Environment Drift Reports

*allowing you to check if the different Test Environments and Production Environments are aligned.

Conclusion

Software is the Life-Blood of modern-day business.

Enterprise Release Management is a complex process that involves multiple stakeholders and actors in the software development life cycle. The role of the release manager has been evolving over time, and will continue to do so as enterprises adopt new digital delivery methodologies such as DevOps.

In a nutshell, the role of the Release Managers is to ensure that the right changes are made to the right systems at the right time, in a coordinated and controlled manner.

The success of your enterprise software development projects depends on how well you manage the release process. By using the right tools and following best practices, you can ensure a successful release every time.

About Enov8 Release Manager

  • Interested uplifting your Release Management Process?
  • Want to Enable your Release Managers?

Why not look at Enov8 for Release and Deployment Management.

Enov8 is a world-leading Test Environment Management, Test Data & Enterprise Release Management solution provider. Our philosophy is to help organizations be “Agile at Scale” through a combination of helping enterprises understand and manage the big picture and ultimately marry that with the necessary IT delivery & release processes activities. The Enov8 Release Management solution is an “extensible engine” that supports the complete release management needs of an organization, independent of chosen lifecycle e.g. Agile or Waterfall. This includes scoping the release portfolio, through to project level planning, cross-project alignment, deployment planning, and release execution (both manual & automated). Learn more about our ERM solution.

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