Release management is a function that helps deliver value to the customer and ensures the on time delivery of what was planned while meeting customer expectations, time and time again. The plan needs to be repeatable with success, and everything needs to be trackable and traceable. Risk assessment is important; it is essential that we handle external dependencies and tackle unexpected problems.
Planning should always involve every stakeholder. This includes the manager, development team, test team, and the members of the configuration management team too. It has been my experience that the CM is called in to implement the plan, rather than contribute to it. Managers with a solid understanding of CM were likely to be more successful in planning and execution.
There are several issues to consider while planning. For example, how do we handle delays on the part of external suppliers? An external supplier could be another group within the same company operating in a separate silo altogether, time zone included. Or it could be a third party (TP) that has hardly any effective processes to think about. So our performance is critically tied to their deliveries and process. It is important for TPs to have and follow a process in place, in addition to working out in advance the process for handling risks. These processes should be periodically audited. Additionally, tt’s a good idea to assign people who are experts in specific areas.
It is good to ask yourself are you delivering exactly what the customers wants. Often customer requirements keep changing due to constantly evolving expectations and competition. We have to deal with this, because processes need to be in place. If we don’t manage this, we cannot be successful. To be successful we need to manage these changing requirements and do whatever is necessary to deliver on time, according to plan.
You should also ask yourself how qualified is your team. Does your team possess the right competencies, and do they have the right resources (viz. hardware, software, skills etc)? Needless to say, focused and competent leadership is essential, and, most importantly, the team must follow the plan. In my experience, this can be very difficult to achieve.
We have to be successful each and every time, and we need to avoid mistakes and other defects. The customer needs a successful product in order to survive in today’s competitive market place. Customers depend on us to make this happen. Processes need to be in place and must be followed properly, because following a proper process enables traceablility. For example, traceability helps to do root cause analysis, which ensures a fast and reliable response from the team. It is a good idea to have internal audits to verify that processes are followed and, when necessary, take corrective measures.
Communication is another aspect of release management. It is crucial to the success of any relationship and essential for a successful project. It is always best to keep communicating and share information that is relevant in an understandable manner. Communication should involve all the teams, including developers, testers, configuration managers, and also the external third parties.
Configuration management contributes to most of these aspects in partnership with the project management function. Involving CM not only helps the planning process, but also enriches the CM resource himself, who in turn can contribute more than before. I have seen a project that failed to deliver quality deliverables because of a lack of a proper plan in addition to a lack of proper CM process. CM's critical function becomes readily apparent once you bring the project back on track.
About the Author Iniyan Charles is currently Build and Configuration Engineer with ST-Ericsson. He has over 7 years of CM experience in domains Telecom and semi-conductors. He is currently also working to contribute to embedded systems software integration. He is passionate about CM processes and loves to learn more on the subject. Apart from CM and software development process, he loves reading and sport. You can contact him on his email ([email protected]) or on LinkedIn http://in.linkedin.com/pub/iniyan-charles/12/760/705