The release management is the necessary process through which to coordinate all the phases of the software development, from the planning to the release. This path represents a challenge for all companies as cycles are becoming increasingly rapid and, on top of that, there is also the complexity of introducing new versions, solving bugs, as well as having to support heterogeneous tools and platforms.
Release management is no longer enough
The release management includes the processes of management, planning and control for the creation of a program, through different phases and environments. To this are added both the tests and the distribution of the various versions for heterogeneous devices. Every single aspect of release management has, in fact, been significantly influenced, in recent years, by the Agile and DevOps development techniques, which are increasingly widespread in the business environment.
All organizations that adopt optimal release management processes benefit from quality, speed, and efficiency. These improvements allow the team to produce quality software repeatedly with shorter release times, making the company more sensitive and responsive to market changes.
Release management also helps simplify a large part of the processes associated with the development and operational aspects. The team implements verifiable release controls, creating a repository for all releases. With a single well-documented process that must be followed for all versions, standardization and an obsessive attention to the product are achieved, as well as a growing maturity of the teams in obtaining a higher level of know-how, which can be transferred to the in future versions or in new projects. Done effectively, release management increases the number of releases by the team, reducing quality issues.
However, although aspects such as productivity, communication and coordination are in the foreground, in the daily reality the management of the releases is not linear and without problems. Hence, organizations face the fact that release management is no longer sufficient to deliver softwares quickly while reducing the risk of any bugs.
Methodologies and problems in the management of the releases
The release management organizational flow is divided into planning, building, testing and distribution. It is important to underline that, within each single phase, there may be potential bottlenecks and problems.
Being able to achieve a workflow without any obstacles throughout the life cycle is essential to a successful outcome, both in business and IT.
Generally, the correct methodologies for managing releases include aspects of primary importance such as the automation, both on the development front and on the testing side, with which it is possible to reduce costs allowing a faster iteration, reducing the possibility of false positives and negatives.
Another aspect to take into consideration concerns the need to have multiple development, test and pre-production environments, in order to be able to carry out the build and testing phases in a consistent way. In this case, it may happen that the in-house testing phase is carried out quickly and with limited resources. These also include the potential absence of sufficient test environments to verify the presence or absence of bugs. Furthermore, for many companies, the processes described above turn out to be expensive both economically and in terms of time.
Another very common problem is the lack of understanding of the releases. Development teams often work compartmentalized, without documenting the release, providing support during the release, and with standards that vary between different products and customers. For a satisfactory implementation of the processes, all teams must adopt a holistic approach, that is to observe the release of the software as a whole and not as regards the individual parts.
In addition to all of this, for an adequate release management strategy it is essential to comply with clear requirements and make the acceptance criteria verifiable. At the same time, to minimize the problems for end users, it is necessary to verify the software with regression tests before the release of each version. Finally, with the creation of immutable elements, where possible, the appearance of bugs deriving from an unexpected series of actions or functions not correctly implemented is avoided.
Crowdtesting and release management
In addition to a clear release management strategy, most of the release management methodologies can be integrated with the crowdtesting. This approach allows you to face multiple issues in a more streamlined and rapid way, starting from the need to have different development environments, up to the requirements verification and regression tests.
Thanks to the crowdtesting, the development team has a heterogeneous group of users at its disposal, always available, chosen according to different needs and equipped with different devices. With this solution, the processes of managing coverage tests, checking requirements and releasing updates are simpler and more immediate. All of this, therefore, enables the achievement of a greater and better productivity for the entire development team. Not only that, even from an economic point of view, the commission payment model allows you to minimize costs.
Therefore, the adoption of release management tools, combined with a crowdtesting strategy, represents an opportunity to conduct continuous improvement for the entire company. It is thus faster to provide greater visibility and traceability of the entire development process, with an increase in the effectiveness and efficiency of the planning and the revision processes, to accelerate and improve the software release.