7 Ways to Improve Your Software Release Management

Two consultants helped turn around the release management of a major U.K. telecommunications provider. They share their experience in turning around deployment processes and their top tips for improving your software releases.

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Our basic assumption is that people are inherently interested in doing good work. If you want the people in your teams to care about your product and about doing a good job, you have to first demonstrate that you care about what is important to them. From the outset of the project, we formed excellent rapport with everyone on the teams, based on mutual respect and understanding. We demonstrated that we were flexible about personal challenges and we did whatever we could to help. Whether this was buying lunch, fetching drinks, organizing training and advice, listening to problems or playing devil's advocate, we did whatever was needed to make each person feel valued as a critical part of the process.

When we came to the project we found a general sense of apathy. Some longer-term permanent employees were simply waiting for the redundancy package; others were never asked to do anything because they had never done anything right. It took a lot of relationship building and investment of time and positive affirmation to get many people back to a point where they cared about delivering personal value to the process.

Release management is a really important part of any software project and is not often given the attention it deserves. There are lots of other great hints, tips and observations we can share about our experience of straightening out the release process of this medium-size telecom enterprise. But these are the seven most important for us in this particular case, though we suspect that they are pretty good ideas for any case.

Good release management takes hard work, resolve and great communication; however, the greatest skill is the ability to review, learn and adapt improvements.

Good luck!

Mike Sutton used to be a whiz kid programmer. Now, after fifteen years in the trenches, he is less of a kid and has turned the whiz into helping programming teams become winning solution providers using agile methods and pragmatic approaches like those described in this article. He works through Wizewerx Ltd as an independent IT consultant specializing in high-end Java development solutions, agile coaching, and mentoring and has worked for blue-chip companies in the U.K. and Europe.

Tym Moore was supposed to provide an author bio, but he was too busy helping clients to send it in on time.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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