What’s Your Release Management Risk Factor? In Five Questions
By Dalibor Siroky
Here are a few questions to help you assess the scope of your release management challenges. Based on the answers to these questions, you can calculate your Release Management risk factor. This will help you understand what steps you need to take today to mitigate release management risks that accompany software development at scale.
____ (Y/N) Question 1. Does your organization have more than 100 IT staff managing more than 25 systems?
These 100 people don't have to be in a single group and the systems maintained don't have to be limited to a single group. Also, note that the systems supported can span a range of customer-facing to back-office solutions - everything from a component of a large website to an email system.
Think about the organization you work for. If there are 100 or more IT employees and 25 or more systems being supported answer Yes to this question.
____ (Y/N) Question 2. Are you under pressure to increase your release cadence and scope?
Release and environment managers across the industry are under pressure to support larger, more varied IT portfolios that call for more frequent releases each of a larger scope.
If your organization has either transitioned or wants to transition from quarterly to monthly or weekly releases answer Yes to this question.
____ (Y/N) Question 3. Are your applications increasingly interdependent with single releases affecting many systems?
First came service-oriented architecture (SOA) and now systems communicate using light-weight REST APIs. The trend in the industry is to build enterprise-scale systems using smaller, independent and more focused components.
If you've been asked to account for cross-application interdependencies in your releases answer Yes to this question.
____ (Y/N) Question 4. Are your delivery teams distributed across geographies or outsourced to partners in different organizations?
On a large team, it's easy to lose track of who is working from where and when they work. If you are often unsure of which office or which timezone members of your team are working in answer Yes to this question. If your team is large it may also be difficult to tell the difference between outsourced projects and internal projects. If this is the case answer Yes to this question.
____ (Y/N) Question 5. Does your release and test environment information exist in disparate silos that are not easily accessible or are out of date?
A universal question in any release process is, "Did you test the application against production data?". Often the answer is unsatisfactory because it is either impossible to get a copy of production data into a QA environment or your organization faces strict security protocols that require labor-intensive data masking activities.
If your release processes rely on several independent applications to work across several different environments and if environment management and orchestration is a challenge answer Yes to this question.
After you've answered these questions count the number of questions answered in the affirmative. This is your Release Management Risk Factor.
____ (Add up the # of Yes Answers) = Your Release Management Risk Factor
Now that you've answered these questions, it is time to evaluate your risk factor.
Risk Factor 0-1 - You are doing just fine and you can manage the low level of risk you are exposed to.
If you answered yes to only 1 question you are operating within a simple IT landscape where releases are relatively straightforward and low risk. Even if you have a large team, your releases are infrequent and low-risk or maybe you have frequent releases, but your application is simple and focused on only a handful of easily managed dependencies.
You are lucky to work in an environment that isn't dominated by release management risk. At a time when IT portfolios are expanding and companies are scaling software development teams to the limit, your releases are easy. Have fun.
Risk Factor 2-3 - Your teams are beginning to feel the strain of multiple complicating factors and "cracks" are beginning to appear in your release process.
Your applications and your personnel are increasingly distributed. As your organization continues to scale and application teams grow, risks associated with release management often outpace an organization's ability to adapt. Release orchestration activities start to dominate a department dealing with parallel development streams and increasingly interdependent applications.
At this level of risk, the best tool to address developing complexity is information. With Plutora, you can start to assess the impact of releases on your overall timeline. You can see how efficient your teams are at delivering software and supporting software releases and you can use this information to make better decisions about staffing and scheduling.
Risk Factor 4-5 - You are AT RISK OF RELEASE FAILURE. If you answered YES to 4 or 5 questions your organization and IT landscape is highly complex and you need robust processes and solutions in place to control this risk.
Operating at this risk level without a solution dedicated to supporting releases, environments, and deployments isn't easy. You have teams of project managers working on manual spreadsheets tracking release dates, resources, and staffing concerns in a series of endless meetings focused on managing risks.
At this high level of risk, you and your management lack the ability to predict which portions of a complex release schedule are prone to failure and your inefficient, reactive approach to software development is causing delays. Your teams can't deliver on a quarterly or annual development plan because release management issues make it impossible to plan for more than a week.
You need an Enterprise Release Management solution like Plutora so that you spend less time on release administration, reduce risk and accelerate enterprise software delivery.
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