Disciplined Agile Release Management: External Workflow

In this blog posting, the latest in our ongoing disciplined agile release management series,  we overview the external workflows that release management is likely to be involved with.

Workflow With Other IT Teams

The following diagram overviews the major workflows that people performing the Release Management activity will have with others.  One interesting aspect of this diagram is that it shows that many IT delivery teams, which may be following different lifecycles or even tailored versions of one of the disciplined agile lifecycles, potentially feed production ready releases into the release management process.  In some organizations you may have a separate release management team doing this work.  Other organizations, particularly those that are well on the way to adopting a disciplined DevOps strategy, will often choose to have the delivery teams themselves do the release management work via a “you build it, you release it, you run it” mindset.  For now our focus is on the activities surrounding release management, not on the potential organizational structures to support it.

Disciplined Agile Release Management Workflow

The following table summarizes the workflows depicted in the diagram.

Process Blade Process Blade Overview Workflow with Release Management
Continuous Improvement Addresses how to support process and organizational structure improvement across teams in a lightweight, collaborative manner; how to support improvement experiments within teams; and how to govern process improvement with your IT department. Your continuous improvement efforts should result in improvement suggestions gleaned from other teams that whoever is doing release management can learn from.
Enterprise architecture Addresses strategies for collaborative and evolutionary exploration, potential modelling, and support of an organization’s architectural ecosystem in a context-sensitive manner. The enterprise architects will produce a technology roadmap that will reflect the current operational environment as well as the expected direction that it will head in. This information will be used as input into decisions regarding any technology strategies to support release management activities.  Release intelligence, measures surrounding your release management activities (such the number of releases put into production, the time/cost of each release, results from deployment testing, and so on) are made available to enterprise architects to be used as input into their decision making processes.
IT Delivery Addresses how to develop solutions in a disciplined agile manner.  This includes the four lifecycles – basis/agile, advanced/lean, continuous delivery, and exploratory – supported but DAD plus the program management blade (effectively a large team following one or more of the lifecycles). Your release management strategy will need to be able to support the range of development/delivery teams within your organization.  Because each team is potentially working in their own, unique manner, it implies that release management professionals (if any) will need to be sufficiently flexible to work with these teams in manners that reflect their chosen strategies.
IT Governance Addresses strategies for consolidating various governance views, defining metrics, taking measurements, monitoring and reporting on measurements, developing and capturing guidance, defining roles and responsibilities, sharing knowledge within your organization, managing IT risk, and coordinating the various governance efforts (including EA governance). The IT governance team will provide guidance to all IT teams, including anyone performing release management activities.  Release intelligence will be provided to the IT governance team so as to provide insight into the effectiveness of the release management effort.
Operations Addresses how to run systems, evolve the IT infrastructure, manage change within the operational ecosystem, mitigate disasters, and govern IT operations. Your operations group will provide operations intelligence (a range of measures, including current system statuses) that will be used to guide release management decisions.  For example, if a platform is currently down (perhaps it is being upgraded), then you would likely be blocked from deploying into that environment until it is available.  The release management activities will produce release intelligence measures that operations staff will use in their decision making around the consumability of aspects of the operational infrastructure.  For example, they may be interested in knowing the level of effort required to deploy into various platforms.
Portfolio Management Addresses how to identify potential business value that could be supported by IT endeavors, explore those potential endeavors to understand them in greater detail, prioritize those potential endeavours, initiate the endeavours, manage vendors, and govern the IT  portfolio. Your organization’s portfolio management monitoring activities will take advantage of any release intelligence made available to it.

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