How do you know when your software is ready to be released to the public?

Your release manager says so.

What is release management?

Release management is a relatively new, highly specialised job that involves testing new software and software upgrades until they are ready to go into mass production. Release managers oversee the granular processes involved in software development, such as planning, work flow, scheduling and technical support.

According to The Release Guy, release managers identify and devise processes directly related to the release of software. They are in charge of quality control, and they facilitate communication between the different departments involved in software development, testing and deployment.

According to Project Connections, the responsibilities go a little deeper than that. They also need to align software development with customer needs, as well as with the needs of the company, especially in terms of time and cost.

Release Management

Skills

As release managers are involved in every process of software development, they need to have advanced coding skills. They also need project management skills and need to be able to work well with people. This is not a skill traditionally associated with IT specialists, but it is essential to ensure cordial relationships between teams and between teams and upper management.

Release managers might also have to go in to bat for their teams and explain or defend progress to upper management, which means they need to be supportive, tactful and thick-skinned. The thick skin is necessary because they might have to bear the brunt of upper management’s displeasure – and then not take it out on their staff.

Communication skills are a given.

Benefits of release management

  • Proper planning and management ensures that each team is prepared for the changes to come.
  • Teams understand exactly what is required to maintain and even enhance the quality of the product.
  • Proper planning and management reduces the risk of errors and increases the chances of cross-compatibility.
  • Cost savings, which is a natural by-product of reduced errors, teams co-ordination, and time saved.

Software development companies have a lot riding on the successful deployment of their products – reputation and profit-wise. This is why they have a host of professionals working round the clock to ensure that their software packages are compatible with a range of devices and operating systems, not to mention free of bugs and errors. Release managers ensure that those professionals keep their eye on the target and work to the best of their ability to provide the (almost perfect) product on time.

Written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of SAP Careers, which advertises a range of SAP-related jobs in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

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