I been working and consulting as release & configuration manager since long time, Answer for the question “what are the responsibilities of release manager” is not that straight and simple. In order to know that have to consider other facts as. On paper it’s an easy to assign role & responsibilities for release manger, however for practicing effective release management, release manger should have proper authorities to accomplish expected KRAs(key resulting area),Each KRA may consist of one or many activities .
Number of responsibilities for release manager varies based on team size ,delivery model(onsite, offshore, onsite-offshore).Generally in small size project ,project manager takes care of the RM role. In mid and large size project RM responsibilities addressed by single and dedicated person or responsibilities would be distributed based on the delivery model.
Below I am explain basic responsibilities of RM role however it’s just a tip of iceberg each responsibilities needs to understand in details in order to get complete picture of release management.
v Release Planning: First thing first, Release manager first identifies the area of operations and define the activities for that role and assigned to the process owner release can be like.
- Release manager
- Configuration controller
- Configuration Manager
- Build developer
- Build installer
- Acceptance Tester(SPOC)
- Reviewer for release Plan
v Release Manager is responsible for preparing Release Plan as per agreed format which should address below points.
- Inputs/communication for planning
- Stream/component involved in respective release.
- SPOC list in case coordination for multiple component deployment
- Detail release schedule along with approval status.
- Release tracking and communication related details.
- Release Implementation plan from respective component
- details about training (if required )
- Back-out (in case of need to roll back release)
v During release planning RM should give high priorities to the critical CR and also consider the CR backlogs
v Frequency of the release plan changes should be for every release or it should be tuned for every release if it is already derived for entire cycle
v Incorporate the release plan changes based on the reviewers comments
Today many large size projects follows onsite-offshore model where teams are spread across different geographical location. In this situation release manager may have to work with offshore team where majority of team members are available in this case the some of the RM responsibility are delegated to PMO or onsite coordinator because few/many release panning activities required constant customer interaction and follow-up which may be difficult to handle effectively from offshore hence to bridge the gap which may arise due to either of situation hence some of the RM responsibilities are shared with the onsite PMO team or onsite coordination who will work with/under release manager. Although the responsibilities are delegated but the ownership will be remains with the RM to track the end to end progress.
Forming Configuration Control Team: Formation of configuration controller (CC) team is one of the first thing RM should do where multiple projects are participating in each delivery epically in SI projects , CC are responsible for coordinating with RM ,configuration management(CM)and quality activities with release and configuration manager for respective streams/projects/modules. Sooner the CC team formed faster RM will get control on individual Streams/project/modules.
Defining CM process with Configuration Manager (CM : I would say CM is the right hand of release management process and which plays the vital role in any SDLC, bad CM management can easily take entire projects in jeopardy and can give you sleepless nights. Release manager should have tight control over the CM process and have review and improve it over the period of the time. RM is responsible for defining the CM process ,role & responsibilities with the help of CM.
Build developer : build developer is responsible for creating build packages based on the release plan or guide lines received from CC/RM/CM for the respective stream/projects usually build developer role can be taken by CC himself or any one from team ideally it should be rotation basis to avoid person dependencies.
Build Installer : in most of the scenarios Build developer and installer would remains same however in many cases development team do not directly interact with production environment hence there are dedicated application support team who owns the environment . In that case build installer give the proper and details instruction document about build deployment and configuration which also says about back-out plan. Build installer has to coordinate with application support team during build installation.
Acceptance Tester : After every successful build installation and before handover environment for testing to live user or to client there should be acceptance testing should be carried out by the testing team ,there are different sets of acceptance team/testers available at various stages of SDLC (SIT, QA, Staging, production).Acceptance testing can rasie the alert in case build will not pass in their testing.
Release manager co-ordinate with respective lead of the acceptance testing team from different environment and share the release details and schedule for deployment so that team can plan their testing schedule accordingly this co-ordination is very much essential when deployment will be done from offshore and testing will start in different time zone. Release manger is responsible for initiating acceptance testing once get the confirmation of completion of successful deployment and for the closure of testing with signoff from acceptance team.
Release manager has to ensure that acceptance testing team is well aware of the functionality which is being delivered and they have proper guidelines and data to certify acceptance testing.
Coordination and communication: Very essential part of RM profile according to my point of view profile of release manager demands more on communication and coordination which is the key of being effective and successful release management. This will become challenge when release management is handle from offshore and majority activities are happening on onsite however this can be overcome by defining and following proper coordination and communication guidelines which will work fine in onsite-offshore model.
Since release manger is coordinating from client to CC he has to be on top of the all the communication received from all the channel and share the latest updates/plans with the rest of the team to keep everyone on same page.
Generally RM should define checklist which should cover activities from change request to final communications to customer for release completion & follow it for effective and timely communication to targeted audience to keep them inform about progress on release
RM also defines the various communication documents and templates starting from implementation plan to release notes and tune it on time to time to ensure document details are not redundant and it should not unnecessary maintain.
By : Dharmesh Patel