This posting, the latest in a series focused on a disciplined agile approach to release management, overviews the activities associated with release management. The Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit promotes an adaptive, context-sensitive strategy. The framework does this via its goal-driven approach that indicates the process factors you need to consider, a range of techniques or strategies for you to address each process factor, and the advantages and disadvantages of each technique. In this blog we present the goal diagram for the Release Management process blade and overview its process factors.
The following process goal diagram overviews the potential activities associated with disciplined agile release management.
The process factors that you need to consider for release management are:
Release Management and DevOps
Release management is an important part of your Disciplined DevOps strategy. Having said that, many IT departments are still in their early days of adopting a DevOps approach yet still effective release management. The implication is that the way that you approach release management will vary depending on how far down the DevOps adoption path you are. For example, with no DevOps in place at all your release management activities are likely to be performed by a team that is completely separate from your IT delivery teams. When you are in the process of adopting a DevOps mindset release management is likely to be a collaborative effort between the IT delivery teams and the release management team. When you have fully adopted DevOps strategies release management is mostly performed by the delivery teams themselves.
Retrospectives are a great way for teams to explore potential improvements to the way that they work. A team will get together, discuss what is working well for them, what is not working so well, and hopefully identify ways that they could improve. It’s this last activity that can be challenging. You may know that your team is facing a problem but you might not understand your options. For example, perhaps your team is struggling with the way that it is being funded. The current funding mechanism is to estimate the cost up front and then allocate these funds to your team. This motivates your team to be wary of changing requirements due to the fear of going over budget, something that decreases your ability to produce a solution that meets the true needs of your stakeholders. You have suggested to management several times that a time and materials (T&M) approach would be more appropriate, but you have gotten nowhere with that conversation.
This is where DAD’s process goal-driven approach can help out. In this case the goal Secure Funding provides some insight. The process goal diagram, see below, along with the supporting descriptions of each technique, their advantages and disadvantages, and advice for when the technique is applicable can help your team to understand their options and hopefully argue for a better funding strategy. Although a T&M approach might not be palatable to your financial team right now, perhaps they would be willing to consider a stage gate approach to funding. Or, perhaps they would be open to a T&M approach but they just don’t understand the tradeoffs between T&M and fixed cost. With DAD’s goal-driven approach the team can arm itself with the arguments that it needs to have a knowledgeable conversation with the actual decision makers.
Of course this is just one example. The DA toolkit addresses a range of goals pertinent to successful agile solution delivery, all of which can provide team’s insight into potential process improvement options. Knowing your options is an easy way to up your game during retrospectives.