What Makes a Good Enterprise Release Manager?



by Michiel Mulders

Do you want your company to scale efficiently? Look for an enterprise release manager (ERM). An ERM protects and manages the movements of releases in multiple environments.

This includes build, test, and production environments. They ensure that there is a proper structure in place for managing all a company’s projects and releases. The ERM manages the multitudes of projects simultaneously. At the same time, they ensure efficient management and maintain track of all the projects.

In today’s blog post, we’ll talk about why the enterprise release manager role was created and the role of an ERM in your organization. Then, we’ll discuss what skills to look for when hiring an ERM and whether you really need one.

Here’s a list of the topics we’ll cover in the post:

  • What Led to the Creation of the Enterprise Release Manager Role?
  • What’s the Role of the Enterprise Release Manager?
  • Skill Breakdown of a Release Manager
  • 4 Best Practices for Enterprise Release Managers
  • Do You Need an Enterprise Release Manager?

Let’s get started!


What Led to the Creation of the Enterprise Release Manager Role?

Today’s enterprises have a large number of portfolios. Enterprises are working on an increasing number of independent projects simultaneously. There is rampant decentralization in deployment and release responsibilities among companies now.

The companies are delegating these responsibilities to individual development teams. However, it’s not an easy task to keep track of all these individual projects as an organization.

So what exactly constitutes enterprise release management? It is nothing but a set of practices. The role of the enterprise release manager is seeing an increasing demand in the IT hiring market.

What’s the reason behind it? An ERM efficiently manages and tracks the increasing number of software projects from the development to production stage for growing IT companies.

What’s the Role of the Enterprise Release Manager?

That’s all well and good, but you must be wondering, what sort of duties the ERM will perform? This section will discuss the role of an ERM in your organization.

An enterprise release manager is responsible for preparing a plan for managing the different release cycles across all projects. They manage risks and resolve the associated issues affecting the release process.

Your ERM will also measure and monitor the progress of application releases. They do this to ensure that they deliver the projects on time, and that projects don’t exceed the budget.

The responsibility of the coordination of releasing content lies on the enterprise release manager. They oversee efforts to clear service request backlogs and pending service requests. All communication about commitments, project plans, and ongoing changes goes through the enterprise release manager. An ERM also reviews release readiness, milestones, and the inclusion of functionality in releases.

They work along release engineers to understand the branches and code merges, along with their impact on the release process. An enterprise release manager strives to make continuous improvements in the release process. They are also responsible for researching software development and configuration management methodologies.

Often, organizations also mandate that their ERM manages a record of important information such as procedural information of release and software builds, their dependencies, and notification lists. In short, ERMs maintain an overview of all an enterprise’s projects.

Skill Breakdown of a Release Manager

The skills that you should look for when hiring a release manager are the following:

  • Release management
  • Project management
  • Quality assurance
  • Software development

1. Release Management

This skill helps the release manager in improving the release processes. A skilled release manager defines the exact roles and responsibilities of developers who participate in release management and also creates procedures and templates. They also implement a framework for supporting and escalation in release management.

2. Project Management

Every release manager should have knowledge about project management. A release manager uses their project and change management knowledge to improve the release process. It also helps them keep track of the progress of the project or projects they oversee.

3. Quality Assurance

A release manager has to work with multiple departments like development and QA. Hence, an ERM skilled in QA can clarify and document the requirements concerning a new release. Also, this skill helps them manage production applications and handle the implementation responsibilities as well.

4. Software Development

Lastly, knowledge of software development is valuable in the release management domain. An ERM skilled in software development is better at visioning between the hardware and software teams. It also aids them in overseeing the successful delivery of the project to the stakeholders. It’s not a must-needed skill, but being able to understand how code works or how an application is structured is definitely a bonus.

4 Best Practices for Enterprise Release Managers

These practices aim to smoothen the process of the software delivery cycle consisting of multiple projects. The goal of release management is to release software efficiently and timely. It contains subprocesses like creation, scheduling, and coordination of the software delivery process.

The most important part of this whole process is managed by the enterprise release managers. It includes the delivery of entire production chains such as software, hardware, and infrastructure configurations.

There are additional focus areas for technical release managers. These include building code, database structures, and configurations of the application. In essence, they manage the whole development process. Their goal is to ensure the adoption of best practices in the development architecture.

Here are four best practices for ERMs:

1. Coordinated Release of Multiple Projects

Maintain a consolidated event calendar in a large composite release. Here, the large composite releases include all projects across the company. This process also governs the deployment of these projects within the enterprise operating environment.

2. Environment Management

Track the work-effort and required capacity for the process of software delivery. Support the scheduled use of shared persistent environments or opt for the application of automated provisioning of environments. This can be accomplished through the use of a continuous integration pipeline.

3. Oversee Creation With Dashboards

Dashboards will help you capture key metrics and performance indicators. You can view data for all resources, release processes, and gates in one place. A dashboard empowers all stakeholders in identifying the work progress. Therefore, it also allows the ERM to benchmark the release management process.

4. Continuous Improvement

An enterprise release manager is a data-driven person who loves capturing metrics, as mentioned in best practice number three. These metrics can also be used to gain a deeper understanding of the different release processes and how they can be further optimized. An ERM should be focused on continuous improvement to push the delivery processes to the next level.

For example, an ERM might notice that a particular release pipeline has slow build times. Here, they might discover that the required libraries aren’t cached on the server. This means that the build pipeline has to download these packages for every single release, which slows down the pipeline. A skilled ERM will fix this issue.

Is Release Manager The Same as A Project Manager?

As you’ve seen, release managers should have knowledge about project management. Some people wonder, then, whether release manager is just a different name for project manager. Is that so? Actually, no. Sure, there are overlaps between the two roles, but they’re still too different jobs.

Think of a project manager as a higher-level role. A project manager cares about many concerns related to taking a project from beginning to completion. They schedule meetings and elaborate their agendas, give estimates to the project’s sponsors, manage the budget for the project—including maybe approving each purchase personally—evaluate the need to bring in more talent, and manage the hiring process when it’s time to do it.

The release manager is a lower-level role, in the sense that’s more technical and closer to the trenches. As you’ve seen, the release manager is responsible for managing the release cycles, ensuring each release makes it to production as efficiently and safely as possible.

In short: the release manager and project manager do different yet related things, and they should work closely in the organization.

 Do You Need an Enterprise Release Manager?

You must be thinking that there won’t be a need for ERM, as DevOps and automated releases are available today. However, you still need someone to tell the system when to release and decide which features to group in a release. Furthermore, you will also require a release manager to decide when to start the QA testing process.

Automation is easy, but knowing what exactly one needs to automate is important. That’s where the need for an ERM arises. A skilled enterprise release manager helps the team have crystal clear insights about each segment of the delivery pipeline. It’s beneficial for companies that aim to make the DevOps and continuous deployment process truly automated to recruit an ERM in the DevOps team.

You must be wondering now: how much would that cost me? Well, if you research sites such as Glassdoor, you’ll learn that a typical ERM salary is 80K to 110K per year, which is comparable with salaries for mid-level software engineers in the US.


The role of the enterprise release manager is evolving. However, the need for enterprise release managers won’t subside anytime soon. Many industry experts still vouch for the importance of enterprise release management.

Organizations can surely benefit from an ERM for continuous improvement in the release process. Hiring an enterprise release manager leads to efficient utilization of budget and ensures a project releases on time—and who doesn’t want that?

Last but not least: great tooling never hurts, right? Enov8’s offerings include a powerful ERM platform that can manage all of your releases and deployments. Start your evaluation today.

Michiel Mulders

This post was written by Michiel Mulders. Michiel is a passionate blockchain developer who loves writing technical content. Besides that, he loves learning about marketing, UX psychology, and entrepreneurship. When he’s not writing, he’s probably enjoying a Belgian beer!

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