Friday, February 27, 2009

Release Management: Central Function or Dispersed?

Mr. Andrew, Build and Release Manager at Marks and Spencer asked a question about the release management on my LinkedIn professional group. I think this is the question on the mind of many release managers. Following is his question and my subsequent answer. There were some other beautifully crafted answers to the question but here I am presenting only my answer.

Andrew's Question: Hi, I'm trying to understand what is the best practice for Release Management in a very large organization. Currently I have a central team of about 25 Release Managers that manage releases throughout the entire lifecycle (into System Test, System Integration Test, User Acceptance Test, Operational Acceptance Test and Production).

However, I'm not sure if this is the best model for the business. My development colleagues have suggested that releases into System Test (not int. test) may be better controlled via the Development Teams, thus increasing release turn-a-round (less red tape!), although this brings concerns of control, environment access, etc, etc, into my mind.

I'd like to canvass ideas and thoughts around this please. Many thanks in advance of your support, Andrew

My Answer: There is no single model that fits for all but I don't think releases into system test can be controlled via development team in an efficient way. In fact such a move can divert the development team from their core function along.

Assuming release manager as a single point of contact in your organization, transferring such work to development team could bring a situation of uncertainty amongst people requiring a release. Depending on the size of organization, there will be a number of people looking for the right point of contact for their release requirement/advice along with the nightmare of tracing the culprit if anything goes wrong.