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How Project Managers Became Release Managers

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You probably heard the emerging concept of DevOps, or the integrated role of the new software developer/ IT Operations guru.

Well, get ready for a new concept that has existed in the shadows for a while, but will continue to gain momentum – the PM/Release Manager role. Yes, the title needs a bit more work, but the function has been well defined.

Release Management is not new to the IT world. After completion of testing of a new software build, the release management involves the process of rolling out the final software product to the client’s production servers. This in itself is a whole mini-project and requires careful task planning, resource allocation, time estimation, risk management, quality planning and change management. And who is better equipped to handle this type of mini-projects than the Project Manager?

According to the ITIL methodology (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) the Release Manager is in charge of handling the release process, however as companies streamline IT processes to reduce costs, this process is/will become an extension of the Project Manager’s role. As a result, the question whether Project Managers need to have IT backgrounds becomes mute. They do! The reality is that Project Managers are and will continue to get more intimate with the IT Ops tasks.

To give you an idea of the most common release tasks that project managers are required to perform, here is a condensed list:

  • Manage the punch list of priority issues for the release
  • Coordinate the release date with client’s team and your team’s resources
  • Prepare the Release schedule
  • Assign the release resources
  • Run at least two practice releases in the test environments
  • Ensure proper snapshots are made of all servers
  • Ensure database backups are made
  • Ensure Change Management calendar is updated
  • Ensure Configuration Management is planned
  • Ensure client’s UAT team is available and their schedule is incorporated into the Release schedule
  • Ensure appropriate communication is sent to all stakeholders/client’s team/project sponsor prior to and after the completion of release

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