Release Management Best Practices

by Maya G

Release and Deployment Management

Best practices are those actual practices that have delivered efficient, effective, and excellent results in the IT processes and real operations.

Best practices for Release and Deployment management processes and operations can be defined as mentioned below.

Release Management Best Practices

Release planning is a must for every major and minor release.

Release analysts should do appropriate planning before the release plans, packages, and builds are sent for testing to avoid waste of time and effort. Planning should involve analysis of aspects like:

  • What requirements are there for the release, determine which release units to be included in the release, and include complete application and related components into release to ensure proper testing.
  • Release dates of major releases.

Building release packages

The release team must document the manual processes and procedures required to deploy the release into production (or remove it as necessary) in addition to any technology solution, along with the exact order of execution and success indicators of the steps.
The documentation created as part of the build stage should include details of how to monitor and check the release's effectiveness and recognize and react to problems.

Release test plans and review test results

Adequate testing on the release is a mandatory activity that should happen without a miss. All the testing work should happen in coordination with the SVT process.
Once the build is ready, tests need to be performed to verify in the functionalities of the release are in line with the change objectives. Depending on the change's nature, the test requirements like System integration tests, functionality tests, and UAT/Pilot tests should be performed defined by the SVT process.

Assess the deployment readiness

Assessing the deployment readiness should involve:

  • Identifying the people (deployment stakeholders) who will be involved in the deployment,
  • Taking a baseline of the current configuration before the deployment can start on the production environment will be useful when the roll-out fails.
  • Conducting a post-deployment test on the production environment and the test results to review the release acceptance criteria.

Deployment Documentation

Release notes should be prepared with the content of known issues/bugs identified during the testing and should coordinate with the SACM team to strategize for the release documentation updates in CMS/CMDB.

ELS the most important role in Release management

ELS team should support staff by providing knowledge sessions and training on the release and the technicalities involved in fixing issues. Also, known bugs, known problems should be explained to resolve any knowledge transfer or training gaps.

Release closure

Release Coordinator should ensure:

  • That all affected CIs (which were created/modified) during deployment are updated correctly in CMDB.
  • That all related release documents are updated correctly in CMDB and are linked to appropriate CIs.
  • All recent KB articles prepared during the ELS phase are updated at the appropriate location in the SKMS to be easily reused later by the operations/support staff.
  • Analyze the Deployment and ELS Completion reports and results and discuss with the release team to identify what went correct and what went wrong in the release cycle.

Lessons Learned Document

Documentation of lessons learned should be a must and should be submitted as knowledge articles to verify and validate them and publish them in the knowledge base.

Have a unified calendar with complete visibility

Having an integrated calendar accessible to change, release, and other operational teams like incident and problem would help see planned changes and releases by time, day, week, and month.

Participation of release management staff in service improvement meetings

Participation of release staff in service improvement meetings is vital to understand the IT organization's priorities and goals, and accordingly, release management staff should align its operations. Also, release staff can provide many significant inputs for improving the IT service delivery.

Regular meetings with other ITSM process owners

Regular meetings with other ITSM process owners should happen continuously to update the trends and patterns of releases and EU's and customers' concerns.

Maintenance of ITSM process owners and onsite technicians contacts list

Maintenance of ITSM process owners, onsite technicians, service owner's contact details, and being up to date is a must, enabling the change management staff to do the planning & coordination with other service transition stakeholders.

Access to KEDB, CMDB, CMS, and SKMS

Release management staff should have access to KEDB, CMDB, CMS and SKMS; accessibility to these tools will help the team to understand the impact of a release, associated services, SLAs associated, financial value, etc., and will help them to evaluate the risks associated.

Regular training sessions

Training sessions on the release management process, policies, procedures, and technical knowledge is a must, which should happen at regular intervals.
Most of the delays and discrepancies in release management operations happen due to unawareness of processes, policies, and procedures; hence, IT management must conduct training sessions to bring thorough awareness to all stakeholders. The government should also conduct exams and assessments to evaluate the staff's proficiency and reward them with gifts or incentives.

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