Managing Software Release Cycles: Quality Advice, Tips, and Tricks

Effective and efficient management of a software release cycle is pertinent no matter the industry your company is operating in. For now, let's take a close look at what happens during the release management process as well as a close view of ITIL V3 Compliant best practices. Since the creation of ITIL, this approach has become widely accepted as an effective form of IT service management for organizations all across the globe.

What Happens During a Release Management Cycle?

When a release management cycle takes place, a number of processes will be carried out, including those relating to the creation, testing, and deployment of software. All processes are focused on making sure the software is able to accomplish its intended objective(s). The building, testing, and deployment processes will vary from one organization to the other, even when the same software is being used because objectives will be different for different organizations. Any time new or changed services are implemented, they must go through a release management cycle process to make sure the deployed code will meet the expectations of the stakeholders.

How Much Is Your Release-Cycle Processing Costing You?

Because the scope of application releases has significantly changed due to advancements in technological capabilities, the management and testing involved in the releases have become much more complex when compared to how they used to be. And while one might think that more complex testing and management would lead to inefficiency, it has actually achieved the opposite:

  • The time between releases has been decreased

  • The amount of work involved in testing various applications before they are distributed has decreased

Still yet, if poor management exists within the test environments of release-cycle processes, this can lead to application-release delays, which can result in huge monetary losses. All of this translates into lower profit margins and a negative impact on businesses' bottom lines.

An effective way to see if your release-cycle processing is costing you a fortune is by evaluating how your cycle has changed. It may have started out fairly simple, only requiring a minimal number of developers and QA testers, however, as your projects have increased in complexity, your need for a higher number of developers and testers has likely increased, as well.

Collaboration, communication, and coordination among various teams working on your release-cycle processing can become very costly if you don't make appropriate changes. More so, your timelines for software release may increase if appropriate changes are not made, which leads to an enhanced risk of delay, and this only adds to the fortune that your release-cycle processing may be costing you.

Taking Action

If you have discovered your release-cycle processing is costing a fortune, you will want to take action as soon as possible. To do this, you need to build a method of release-cycle processing that allows you to:

  • Manage multiple test environments

  • Eliminate challenges related to conflict and configuration

  • Maintain a consolidated view of the availability of the system

  • Maintain a consolidated view of the usage of the system

  • Maintain a consolidated view of the configuration of the application testing process

To build a method of release cycle-processing that helps you achieve the goals listed above, you should take advantage of test-environment management software. This type of software delivers multiple benefits, including:

  • Give access to testing environments that are appropriately configured to the objectives needing to be achieved

  • Enable your developer and testing teams to deliver higher-quality production software

  • Decrease the amount of time involved in the software development cycle

  • Save both time and money; fewer resources have to be devoted toward addressing bug and vulnerability issues often accompanied with software release because fewer issues will be present

Another tip to follow to ensure you are employing proper management of your software release cycle is to develop a refined view of your current state of release management. If you don't know what you're working with, how can you expect to fix any problems that it may be causing?

As you develop a refined view of your current state of release management, you will be able to pinpoint issues within your test environments, many of which will likely relate to regression testing. In fact, it is not uncommon for many organizations to have regression testing practices in place that take up to 90 days to manually execute; this results in lower-quality software being deployed due to poor coding that is in need of updating.

As you create a refined view of your current state of release management, there is no need to fret when you discover components of the cycle that need to be addressed. After all, the entire purpose of creating this refined view is to pinpoint the issues so they can be appropriately corrected.

The Best Management Cycle Requires Good Talent

Once you create an effective method of managing software release cycles, you must have the right talent to deploy this method. You can have the best hardware and software, but without a quality team to carry out the processes you have developed, you will not enjoy sustainable success. In fact, you may end up with no software to release. This is why you must make sure from the beginning that you have quality team members who are experienced in software development and software release management.

About the Author: Nancy Peckham

Nancy began her career in telecommunications in 1983 as an account executive with Republic Telecom, a regional long distance carrier. She was named district sales manager for the Wisconsin region in 1987 when Republic Telecom was acquired by Mid American Communications. She recognized a need for independent, objective telecommunications consulting which led her founding Valicom. Since its launch in 1991, Valicom has been a leader in providing telecom expense management solutions and serves enterprise and mid-market clients in a variety of industries and verticals across the U.S. Nancy earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded and served as president of the Telecommunications Professionals of Wisconsin (TPW) from 1989-1992, and was executive vice president on the board of directors of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants (STC). Nancy is also a founding member and executive council chair of the Independent Telecommunications Expense Management Association (i-TEM).