Can you offer some words of advice for those just getting started? Release management is critical, but often misunderstood. There is a macro level of release management that looks at least six or eight quarters into the future, and a micro level of release management which concerns itself with the two or three days immediately surrounding a change window. Ignoring either of these views is the most certain path to failure.
- Engage the organization-- implementing change and release management cannot be done in a corner.
- Establish strong policies so process documents never need to be interpreted on the fly.
- Use tools to automate the process rather than defining a process which fits the tools.
- Train each person for the role they will fill rather than creating generic process training.
- Build reports that people will use.
- Don't forget to gather and agree on solid requirements before moving on to implementation.
- Don't believe implementation of a tool is the hardest part.
- Don't think you can implement release management without appropriate staffing.
- Don't underestimate the importance of a definitive media library.
- Don't settle for a general, high-level process that nobody really follows.
Parting words Change and release control aren't optional any more. You must have adequate control of IT changes in order to stay compliant with governmental and industry regulations, so change control is now a cost of doing business.