Release management today is about building, testing and ultimately deploying a software into the customer’s environment. It is all about being seamless and streamlining the process effectively. It can be more effective if used in sync with a good ITSM software.
Let us look at the top ITIL release management processes with ITSM best practices.
1) Evaluate the current release management system
The starting point to any new process is to evaluate the one already deployed. Start with getting out a detailed overview of your current release management process. You can speak to the key stakeholders for the same. This will help you understand what is good, what is not and what needs to be improved.
2) Consolidate the evaluation findings
After studying the existing release management system, it is important to consolidate and list down the findings. You can get valuable insights pertaining to team morale, customer satisfaction, user-friendliness of the ITSM tools, testing, possible bottlenecks etc. via this consolidation.
3) Streamline the new release management system
Based on the evaluation of the previous system, the new release management system can be streamlined better and corrective action can be taken wherever required. For example: – If the ISTM tools were found to be difficult to use; you could deploy more trainings, conduct awareness workshops, have video tutorials, live customer support etc. to ease out the process for your employees.
4) Establish the life cycle of the release management system
It is wise to define and establish an agreed-upon life cycle for the new release management system. This creates an opportunity to discuss any improvements needed in the ITSM software. It sets a time table which puts everyone on the same page. The timetable can contain release dates for a new update/feature etc. It aids in establishing a routine for all teams. It also helps in responding successfully to customer orders. Once you do a test run, you can figure out where the bottlenecks are and act to correct the same. The final release cycle cannot be about when the customer wants it to release. It has to be about when your team can deliver the ITSM tool to the customer without compromising on the quality.
5) Simplifying processes
Lightweight processes are those that can get easy approval. No need for long meetings to sanction them. They require only basic level of input and output. Adapting to lightweight processes can help to speed up release of the ITSM software. However, one hitch here is that the team has to document everything else it will be impossible to review and make changes.
6) Managing documentation and tooling
It is wise to move to an electronic tool where the relevant documents are accessible to all online. All the team members can study them and act upon them instead of having physical copies of them lying on the shelves. Minimal but effective documentation which can be upgraded after every work cycle found great acceptance among all the teams.
7) Establish a controlled infrastructure
A controlled infrastructure ensures that everything is under control and the ITSM tools can be deployed and used. Configuration Management System (CMS) acts like a boon here. You can conduct brainstorming sessions with the development and management teams and together arrive on the configuration, change and release process for the ITSM software.
8) Build a conducive infrastructure
The release management infrastructure includes hardware, network connections, software licenses, user profiles, bandwidth, human skills and services. For building a conducive infrastructure for the release management system you need to identify tasks that can be automated, craft deployable packages for the same, automate the verification process for the acceptance criteria for the package, conduct a prioritization exercise and finally automate the tasks.
9) Build the Magic Triangle
The magic triangle consists of integrated configuration, change, release and deployment processes. The combination of the above needs to be seamless for the ITSM software to be deployed successfully. The release management team needs to take on the responsibility and align all other teams to do the needful. They need to ensure that the automated process is easy, consistent and has scope for including feedback.
10) Looking at the Metrics
No successful venture is complete without metrics and measurement. Measuring important release management numbers throughout the process can help fine-tune the entire process. You could look at metrics like backlog of changes, successful changes, percentage of changes that have failed, outages caused, timely delivery of releases etc.
11) Conduct training
Training and workshops need to be conducted for all the teams viz change, configuration and the release management teams. These workshops should cover the fundamentals, ITSM tools foundation, measurement and metrics, roles, accountability, timelines etc.
To conclude, good release management is a product of hard work, passion, the right attitude and seamless communication. However, people power is your main power. The ability of your team to adapt to a new IT Service Management software, review it unbiasedly, learn and upgrade their skills with time is the key to having an effective configuration, change and release management process.