Software Release Management

MethdiQA’s Release Management solutions powered by Plutora, aligns your PMO, Environment Management, Development and Testing teams to clear and defined goals. We provide solutions for the following type of Release Management levels:

  • Enterprise Release Management
  • Portfolio Release Management
  • Project Release Management

Enterprise Release Management

Enterprise Release Management (ERM) is a multi-disciplinary IT governance framework for managing software delivery and software change across multiple departments in the organization. ERM combines a focus on the process of managing software releases right from the development stages to the software releases into the production ‘environment’ with other aspects of IT management including Business-IT alignment, IT service management, IT Governance, and Configuration / Deployment management. ERM places considerable emphasis on project management and IT portfolio management supporting the orchestration of people, process, and technology across multiple business departments and application development teams to deliver large, highly-integrated software changes within the context of an IT portfolio. Enterprise release is a systematic method to integrate and manage multiple, independent programs’ and projects’ changes that impact the enterprise. ERM takes an end-to-end life cycle perspective addressing the (strategic) planning, execution and delivery of an organisation’s entire release/change portfolio An Enterprise Release not only consolidates and integrates the deliverables of multiple projects that have to be time-boxed or synchronised so they can be tested and released as a whole, but also maintains overall scheduling authority for operational support releases and other minor initiatives or enhancement works which are executed adjacent to but outside the Project & Portfolio Management.   MethodiQA implements Enterprise Release Management when these types of challenges are evident in the organisation:

  • Inefficient testing and implementation of alike or complementing cross project software components – MethodiQA sets cohesive release architecture which supplements portfolio prioritisation with greater planning that serves to improve productivity and reduce change disruption by executing related features together
  • Insufficient Release implementation windows to support the growing needs of the business from IT  With only a finite availability of production deployment opportunities, multiple types of releases have to compete on fewer time slots. The likes of IT Operations infrastructure patching releases, IT Operations application support releases, Minor functional enhancement releases, multiple project releases combined with other important activities such as Disaster Recovery testing, Change Moratoriums, special business processing windows all lead to release congestion. MethodiQA’s ERM planning framework clearly pre-defines the goal posts for each type of release and Key production activity and plots Release Blockout Periods, Major Enterprise Releases, Minor Enterprise Releases and IT Operations Releases on a unified Enterprise Release Calendar.
  • Late call-outs of Release conflicts resulting in painful re-planning and financial loss – With plethora of releases activities and lack of common planning timeline it takes very little to discover a scheduling conflict resulting in a re-planning effort which can also be very costly. MethodiQA assists the organisation in building and maintaining an Enterprise Calendar thus providing a clear visibility of deployment opportunities and proactive planning capability in the event that things don’t go to plan.

 

Enterprise Release Planning combining multiple projects to a single Major Release: Enterprise Release Projects

Fig1: Illustration of a container Enterprise Release alongwith the multiple dependent project releases or other enhancement releases scheduled to go-live into production on a given day. Traffic lights indicate the health of each component release as per the defined objectives of the organizational release gating strategy.

Enterprise Release Calendar outlining the various release types and release blockout periods: Release Calendar

Fig2: Illustrating an Enterprise Release Calendar capability that not only shows a high level view of what changes are scheduled to go-live on a given day, but also shows blockout periods identified by the organization as constraints on which no/limited changes to be released to Production.


Portfolio Release Management

While Enterprise Release Management operates on the organisational level and oversees various types of releases derived from different IT disciples, Portfolio Release Management (PPRM) focuses on current or proposed projects managed by Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) as an integrated program of work. Enhancing the portfolio schedule, resource and delivery management capabilities, PPRM delves to a deeper analysis on project by project basis and identifies the ‘release phases’ and ‘release activities’ which are required to the deliver a project to production. PPRM interacts with Enterprise Release Management and is operationally aware of the different releases occurring outside the Portfolio Management and may have impact on projects. These typically includes IT operations maintenance releases, service packs, patches and hot fixes. PPRM also works closely with Test Environment Management and influences the strategic and operational aspects of the portfolio test environments.

MethodiQA implements Portfolio Release Management when these types of challenges are evident in the organisation:

  • Projects having conflicting Test Environment Allocation needs – Multiple projects operating in concurrency require a variety of development and test environments to deliver the project software outputs across the environment landscape. Environments are scare resource that has to be managed carefully to eliminate allocation conflicts between the various operating projects. MethodiQA sets cohesive PPM release planning method which flushes each of the project’s execution phases and the specific set of test environment they require. This is proceeded further analysis of the environment schdule to ensure they are availabie and in the correct configuration level. Similarly schdule and scope.
  • Projects operating in isolation with conflicting Implementation Scheduling – With only a finite availability of production deployment opportunities, also referred to as Release Trains or Implementation Windows, multiple types of releases have to compete on fewer time slots. The likes of IT Operations infrastructure patching releases, IT Operations application support releases, Minor functional enhancement releases, multiple project releases combined with other important activities such as Disaster Recovery testing, Change Moratoriums, special business processing windows all lead to release congestions. MethodiQA’s  ERM planning framework clearly pre-defines the goal posts for each type of release and Key production activity and plots Release Blockout Periods, Major Enterprise Releases, Minor Enterprise Releases and IT Operations Releases on a unified Enterprise Release Calendar.
  • Awareness and visibility issues with external stakeholders – A Portfolio of work has significant resource impact on Business and IT Operations stakeholder groups. Certain project activities such as Dress Rehearsals, Disaster Recovery testing, and User Acceptance Testing and Transition to Support require a multitude of resources from the business and IT operations groups. Unless clearly communicated with early notice such expectations from key external stakeholders tends to lead to frustrations and eventually even to project delays with portfolio impact. MethodiQA’s ‘Portfolio Release Schedule’ clearly articulates the various release phases and actives, providing sufficient lead time for resource planning and better transition to support process.

 

Portfolio Release Schedule provides the necessary visibility to the Business and IT Operations:Release Schedule

Fig3: Illustrating Portfolio Release Schedule showing and integrated view of different phases of the projects within the Portfolio/Program of work alongwith the Release stage gates and final deployment dates into Production


 Project Release Management

The most granular form of release management, the Project Release Management (PRM) is executed on a singular project level to ensure that the release phases gates and detailed activities are tracked and the project is delivered to production as planned.

Operating in a highly integrated portfolio, projects have a number of dependencies – Projects must operate within test environment allocations time frames and are also require to ‘hit’ a pre-allocated go-live implementation date set by Enterprise Release Management. Failure to operate within these time box boundaries may result in significant implementations delays and financial losses. Take for instance a major project that slotted into a particular Quarterly Major release. In the event the project is unable to meet the release gates, it would have to abort the major release with a minimum 3 months delays until the next major quarterly release. Further more, it maybe even delay beyond the next major release unless it ‘fits’ with the functional mix of the next major release. Similarly with the test environments – if the project is not able to exit certain test environments on planned time it is likely to cause delays to the next lot projects waiting to enter the same test environment assets.

MethodiQA implements Project Release Management (PRM) when these types of challenges are evident in the project:

  • Project of high level of importance that must be implemented on time  Multiple projects operating in concurrency require a variety of development and test environments to deliver the project software outputs across the environment landscape. Environments are scare resource that has to be managed carefully to eliminate allocation conflicts between the various operating projects. MethodiQA sets cohesive PPM release planning method which flushes each of the project’s execution phases and the specific set of test environment they require. This is proceeded by further analysis of the environment schedule to ensure they are available and in the correct configuration level. Similarly schedule and scope.
  • Project with complex development and testing requirements – Complex project with multiple development streams that are introducing or changing critical business processes has to be managed closely to ensure that Build, Test and Environment Management team are all aligned and are working towards consistent goals. MethodiQA’s Project Release Management Methodology, establishes a release plan which includes the different release phases, gates and granular activities. These activities includes an elaborate code drop plan with agreed content (functional requirements and/or defect fixes), Interface un-hooking/re-hooking, databases refreshes, user provisioning, environment shake-outs etc, transition milestones & ITSM Change Requests (RFCs).

 

 Project Release Plan Activities:Project Release Activities

Fig4: Illustrating Project Release Activities arranged by Phases and Stage Gates of the release. Serves as a centralised tracking mechanism for the activities to be accomplished by the stakeholder groups within those Phases / Gates. These activities roll up into the traffic lights view providing a visual health of the release to the senior stakeholders (ref Fig1)