Agile Release Management

Agile Release Management Software

Trace requirements from beginning to end

In software development, there are many different approaches to managing the release of new features and updates. The two most popular methods are waterfall and agile. This blog post discusses the agile release management approach and how it can benefit your team.

What are the benefits of agile release management?

There are many benefits to agile release management. Perhaps the most important thing is that it can help your business become more agile and responsive to change. With a traditional waterfall approach to release management, making changes quickly and efficiently can be challenging. With an agile approach, releases can be managed more flexibly and iteratively, which can help your business adapt to changes more quickly. In addition, agile release management can help improve communication and collaboration between different teams and stakeholders involved in a release. By managing releases more agilely, you can help your business become more efficient and effective in responding to change.

What is agile development?

Agile development involves creating and improving software by working in short cycles — referred to as sprints. During each sprint,  developers focus on completing a series of agreed-upon tasks. After each sprint, the product is ready for delivery. Agile development is both a process and a mindset that helps developers quickly create high-quality software by working with customers to understand their needs.

Agile Release Management with Doc Sheets

 

Requirements management software, Doc Sheets can help streamline the requirements management and release management process with a sharable central repository, collaboration, and traceability features.

Doc Sheets software can also help to determine the impact of requirements changes on the releases.

requirements traceability matrix grpah

How is agile release management done?

Like most practices within software development, there isn’t one correct way to perform agile release management. However, it is important to follow a few best practices to ensure that it is as effective as possible.

Assign one team to be responsible for the entire release

One of the most common best practices of agile release management is to have one development team be responsible for the build, testing, and deployment of the new release. By removing responsibility for the release from individuals and groups within the organization and assigning it to a single team, you’re enabling better collaboration and communication between the development group and other stakeholders. This also encourages the development group to ask questions and to really understand what the organization needs from a release standpoint. It also ensures that the release meets the needs of those it’s intended for.

Ensure cross-functional team composition

Another best practice of agile release management is to ensure that the development team responsible for the release is a cross-functional team. A cross-functional team includes members with different skills necessary to develop, test, and deploy the new release. While a single, dedicated development team is tasked with releasing the new product or software, the members of this team should not be limited to just developers. Other not essential skills that should be included are QA expertise, project management skills, and infrastructure knowledge. Having these skills present ensures that the development team has everything it needs to develop, test, and deploy the new product securely and efficiently.

Use multiple streams of development

 Another effective way to perform agile release management is to use multiple development streams. By doing this, you’ll have one development team releasing a new version of the product while another is developing a new version. This enables the company to have a new release ready to go, with an older release that the development team can still improve. It’s also a great way to have a testing team focus on one release at a time while the development team works on the newest version of the product. Multiple development streams are an excellent way to keep the cost of agile release management down, as it encourages reuse and decreases the cost of creating new releases over time.

Speed up the release process

Automation can considerably speed up the release process through coding or scripts. For example, if a release includes a change to a website that requires new pages, graphics, and other elements to be uploaded, automation can be used to efficiently and securely deploy the new version of the website. 

Conduct post-release audits

Once a release has gone live, it’s important to thoroughly audit the new version of the product to ensure that no mistakes were made and that it functioned as intended. Asking customers and users for feedback about the product’s functionality and bugs can achieve this. The feedback they provide provides the development team with valuable insight regarding what they did well and what they could improve on in the future.

How much does agile release management cost?

It can be a misconception that the cost of agile release management is drastically higher than traditional software development processes; however, this isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s possible to implement agile release management with significantly less overhead.

It’s important to keep the cost of agile release management down by being more efficient—for example, by using automation to deploy releases to the server, carefully planning releases so that two or more are deployed at once to save time and resources, and by keeping central IT in the loop about what’s being developed so they can help manage security and other concerns.

the cost of agile release management: The most expensive aspect of agile release management is the labor cost. However, because releases happen more frequently, the total labor cost should decrease over time as the development team becomes more efficient at preparing and executing releases.

Keep in mind that the highest cost of agile release management comes from the cost of fixing bugs and from the cost of new feature development. It’s possible to amortize some of these costs over several releases since they happen more frequently. Additionally, each release includes a smaller scope of work, thereby reducing development costs.

How can I become more agile in my release management practice?

Build stability into the release process

Follow a defined process: Structure is an important aspect of any software development project. An agile release management program structures the release process by establishing a consistent set of rules and regulations. This helps developers, testers, business leaders, and other stakeholders understand when and how releases occur.

Control costs during new feature development

Organizations with an agile release management process can better control the cost of new feature development. While this is happening, there must be a balance between satisfying customer needs and the budget. An organization’s leadership should define a maximum cost for new feature development and police the development team to keep costs under control.

Ensure quality in every release

An agile release management program ensures that quality is a top priority in every release, regardless of the product or service. All releases should be tested before they go out the door.

What are the stages of an agile release management process?

There are four stages in an agile release management process: Planning, Development and Testing, Review, and Deploy.

Planning stage

The planning stage is where requirements are defined for the upcoming release. Requirements may include information about the functionality of the release, as well as quality attributes such as performance, accessibility, and maintainability. During this stage, the release team also defines quality criteria that must be met for the release to succeed.

Development and testing stage

The development and testing stage is where the release itself is built. During this stage, the developers add functionality to the product while the testers verify that the new functionality works as intended.

During this stage, the developers and testers must work together while information flows freely back and forth. This ensures that the release meets its requirements and the quality attributes defined during the planning stage.

Review stage

After the release has been built and tested, it’s time to review the release to ensure it meets the definition of done. Any incomplete work should be tracked so it can be completed in future sprints. If the release does meet all the criteria, it’s ready to be deployed to customers.

Deploy stage

The final stage of the process is deployment. After the release has been reviewed and proven to meet all the defined requirements and quality attributes, it’s ready to be deployed to customers. At this stage, it’s important to note that any changes made in the past are also deployed to maintain customer consistency.

During this process, the development team must follow the maximum time-to-market stipulation of leadership. If the developers find bugs in the product after release, they should always work to fix them as quickly as possible while minimizing the impact on customers. However, if the bugs are so severe that a delay is necessary to keep customers safe and maintain a good reputation, the development team should not hesitate to delay the release.

Finally, once the release has been approved, it/’s time to deploy it to the live environment. Agile release management principles dictate that a new release should be deployed to a small subset of customers first. This subset is called a feature set, and its purpose is to allow the development team to verify that the new release complies with the quality attributes defined in the planning stage. 

Testing stage

The testing stage is where a subset of the testers tests the feature set. These individuals are called testers in training, or TITS for short. They aim to verify that the release meets the defined requirements and quality attributes.

Often, a full-scale deployment does not happen immediately after verifying the first feature set. Agile release management principles suggest that another feature set be released after the first one, however – perhaps with a larger TITS group or a full-scale deployment to all customers.

It is up to the leadership team to make this decision, which should take into account cost, speed, and customer impact.

Throughout the entire process, leaders and developers need to communicate about the status of the product and the release within it. Leaders should provide developers with objective criteria for evaluating release readiness. Developers should ensure they fully understand these criteria and advocate for a release if the product doesn’t meet the leaders\’ standards, but customers are still ready to go. 

As the development team launches the release, the operation team begins to deploy the software or new system to the live environment. While the operation team is deploying the release, it also monitors customer interaction with the new feature set to ensure no hurdles impede customers from using it. If there are any unexpected issues, the development team should get notifications so they can fix the issue while it’s still new and cheap to do so. Once the release has been live for some time, and the team has sufficient customer feedback and objective data about its performance, the release can be evaluated for its effectiveness. This process is often referred to as post-mortem analysis or post-release audit.

What are the steps to implementing agile release management?

Agile release management is a process that helps businesses manage and deliver software releases more efficiently and effectively. By following best practices, businesses can ensure that their software releases are delivered on time and within budget. Additionally, agile release management can help businesses improve their software development processes.

There are four main steps to implementing agile release management:

1. Define the release process

The first step is to define the process followed. This process should be tailored to the business’s specific needs and based on best practices.

2. Set up the release management infrastructure

 The second step is to set up the release management infrastructure. This includes creating a release backlog, creating a release plan, and defining the requirements for the release.

Define what can be released and when then prioritize your releases based on business value.

Set up a system for tracking release requests and assignments, as well as reviews and audits.

Finally, create a process for releasing software to customers.

3. Engage in release management

The third step is to engage in release management. This involves managing the release by tracking tasks in the release backlog, performing reviews and audits, and releasing the software to customers.

4. Improve the process

The fourth and final step is to improve the process. This step involves continually evaluating the effectiveness of the process and making adjustments as necessary.

What are the best practices for agile release management?

Many businesses implementing agile release management follow the three-step process described above. However, there are many best practices that businesses should consider when putting together their release management processes.

Create a release backlog 

One of the first steps in setting up your release management infrastructure is to create a release backlog. The release backlog lists all the tasks associated with delivering a new software version to customers.

Pair large, complex releases with a demo or proof of concept

Consider pairing big, complex releases with a demo or proof of concept when creating the release backlog. A demo lets you release new software to your customers in a controlled environment. Using this method, you can verify that newly released software is working with the tasks required for its release.

The same team responsible for managing releases should create the release backlog. This ensures the integrity of the release backlog and helps to prevent the separation of responsibility between developers and release managers.

Determine what can be released

Next, determine what can be released to customers based on the information in the release backlog. Some releases require you to push new software to your customers; in other cases, you can inform your customers that they need to update their systems.

Set deadlines for individual tasks

The final step in creating the release backlog is to set deadlines for individual tasks. These deadlines should be set according to the impact and importance of the task. Tasks with a higher impact should have closer deadlines than tasks with a lower impact.

Agile release management benefits

Businesses that implement agile release management can expect to see many benefits, including:

Improved customer satisfaction

Businesses that use agile release management can improve the quality and timeliness of their software releases, improving customer satisfaction. Users can get the software updates they need on time, which can reduce user frustration. Furthermore, releasing software in smaller increments improves feedback and minimizes user shock. 

Reduced risk by incremental updates

Releasing incremental updates rather than large, monolithic software updates reduces the risk of failure. If an update does cause problems, they’re likely to be contained and easier to fix. Furthermore, companies can reduce the risk of users moving to a competitor by keeping users updated with the latest software and features. 

Able to innovate

By releasing software in increments, companies can innovate continually. This is a key advantage over traditional waterfall development, where major releases occur only once or twice a year. Companies implementing agile release management can stay current with technology and users’ expectations. This allows the company to remain competitive and at the forefront of the industry. 

Agile release management is an evolutionary process that enables companies to develop and deliver high-quality software releases that continually improve. Implementing this process involves four steps: conceptualizing, crawling, walking, and running. Companies can expect to see several benefits from implementing agile release management, including improved quality, reduced risk, and the ability to innovate. 

Lower support costs

By releasing more quickly with smaller increments, companies can cut back on support costs. It’s costly for a company to maintain support staff and pay them while they’re not developing new skills and the expense of recruiting new staff. Furthermore, releasing in small 

The principles of agile release management apply to both software and hardware releases.

Release management best practices

Here are a few best practices for carrying out release management within your company:

Create a checklist. A checklist should document each step of the release process. This help ensures that the release manager and others don’t miss any crucial steps when carrying out a release.

Ensure proper testing. A large part of release management is thoroughly testing the software or hardware before release. Testing is crucial to ensuring customer and company well-being regardless of the industry or software involved.

An important best practice in release management is maintaining the quality of products and services. This is especially true when releasing new software or hardware to your customers. It’s important to remember that a release may include both new features and fixes to existing bugs.

Whenever you release an updated version of software or hardware, be sure to notify your customers. Although this may seem like a marketing effort, it’s vital for the health of your product that customers update their systems to receive new releases. If every release is pushed to customers automatically, attackers likely are the only ones to download the new software.

Also, if your customers must manually update their systems, it’s advisable to provide instructions on how to do so. Furthermore, it’s best to require a confirmation from customers before releasing new software or hardware. This protects customers from unwanted updates and gives them control over when their systems are updated.

Regardless of the industry and software in question, testing is crucial for the health of both the customer and the company.

Communicate with other teams. Close cooperation with other teams is vital to a successful release. The programming team might need help from quality assurance, marketing, customer support, and third-party service providers.

Lastly, it’s best to set manual triggers for each release in your software repository or hardware factory. This ensures the quality of each release and prevents unwanted updates to customers.

A good release manager always considers the company’s and customers’ needs. An agile release manager constantly works with other teams to ensure the best results from each release.