In the mercilessly competitive world of IT, launching new software can be a сomplicated task with challenges at each stage of the process: gathering a team, finding the right market fit, developing the product, and marketing it afterward. Companies should be able to handle numerous challenges simultaneously to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of their product.
Of course, no company can afford poorly-planned releases if they want to satisfy their users and grow.
In this article, we will explore software release management best practices so that you can ensure your company’s product release process goes like clockwork and is stress-free.
So, let’s get started!
In this article:
What Is Release Management?
Release management is a process that oversees phases of a software's development cycle, including scheduling, planning, control, and deployment. Its main aim is to ensure that the technologies and upgrades needed by the business are delivered efficiently and in a timely manner. Release management is required whenever a business plans to introduce a new software product or make changes to an existing one.
The first step for any release manager is to develop a release process map outlining what should be included, followed by managing software development through various phases, performing stability tests, and finally deployment of the completed product.
In general, the software release process varies from company to company. However, they all have several common factors, including the role of release management and the release management process flow.
The Role of Release Management
Without efficient release management, companies risk wasting development timelines, underutilizing resources, and prioritizing the delivery of low-impact features. During this course of action, release managers play an important role, as they are supposed to bridge the gap between the internal (deployed code) and external (user stories) perspectives, ensuring that work is prioritized efficiently in each sprint.
Companies that have a well-developed release plan should do the following:
- transform customer feedback into actionable development plans;
- regulate and standardize corporate governance policies and procedures;
- enhance deployment efficiency by ensuring a greater proportion of positive and a lesser ratio of negative values (e.g., implementing new features and fixes and reducing bugs and downtime).
After knowing its main roles, let’s see how the process flows.
Release Management Process Flow
As previously stated, the specific steps in the release cycle vary by business and even by software, but the following process flow is perhaps the most prevalent.
The first step for release manager in the software development cycle is to submit a request for new technology or changes to existing software.
Sometimes there is uncertainty about if these requests will be accepted and translated into a new version of the app. Therefore, each request is evaluated for logic, feasibility, and whether it can be fulfilled by reconfiguring an already-in-production app version.
Planning is the most critical activity associated with a release. Release managers are responsible for creating a plan that keeps the development team on track and makes sure that all requirements are met during this stage, which defines the structure of the release. Not only should the plan outline the process's scope and critical milestones, but it should also specify the roles and responsibilities of DevOps teams and the individuals who comprise them.
Design and Build
During this phase, all the software requirements are translated into code. The new version is designed and implemented into the software that will be executed.
After completing the code, the next step is software testing. This phase involves non-functional and functional testing of the software. If any bugs are discovered, the software is returned to the devs for correction before being retested. This iterative process is repeated until the dev team and the product owner deem the build ready for launch.
When the software is ready for users, it has officially entered the deployment phase. Still, this phase demands more than simply making the software available for download and installation; it also entails informing users of the new features.
Post-deployment is also referred to as the support phase. The releases are fully functional and ready for use, and if any bugs are discovered, a change request can be submitted. Once this occurs, the whole release management process can be restarted.
Now the management process flow is clear, and the next step is how to improve it and help it thrive.
Ways to Make a FinTech Release Management Process Successful
With a well-thought-out release plan, as well as an appropriate approach for the software release, the procedure will be more efficient and stress-free.
Continue reading to learn how team members advise how to ensure the success of a FinTech release management process.
Lead Java Engineer's Point of View
To push the development process forward, Java engineers should understand the common challenges and know how to resolve them.
Challenges and Risks
The most common challenges and risks engineers face are potential blockers, bugs in a third-party library or services, and progress analysis.
Blockers are tasks that interrupt the progress of software development due to miscommunication between departments as well as errors in risk analysis during sprint creation.
Bugs that occur in a third-party library or services are bugs the developers have no control over.
Many teams carry out progress analysis only when they run into problems. However, it is recommended to hold separate technical stand-up meetings daily so, for example, back-end or front-end team members can communicate their progress. If any problems arise, the team can contribute to a solution, saving the organization a lot of time.
Luckily, the problems that the engineering teams run into can be solved relatively easily. Here are some tips to prevent problems from arising in the first place.
- Hold daily meetings from the first day. Doing so will facilitate communication between back-end or front-end teams, ensuring the project runs smoothly at all times.
- Have the developer team write unit tests for all cases. It is important to unit test all parts of the software before a QA or AQA team carries out the final tests.
- Discuss project deployment with the client. In addition to internal communication, it is necessary to ensure regular communication with the client, as the client may want to request changes.
- Penetration testing. It is recommended that penetration testing be performed and critical areas of the code are covered regularly without delays prior to the app going live.
- Consider all potential problems and risks in advance. If the team considers all potential risks in advance, it will be better prepared to resolve them if they come up.
- Involve the client in processes. It is recommended to involve the client in as many processes as possible. This way, the customer will be able to keep up with the progress and problems of the software release. Regular contact can build a better relationship with the client and make the overall process much easier.
- Push the release to a later date (if necessary). Releasing a half-baked product is the biggest mistake a company can make. Sometimes, a company can save millions if it just postpones the release date instead of fixing bugs and problems after the software is released. If there are high risks that the release may fail, for example, a banking application and penetration testing were not conducted, the release should be postponed because there is a very high risk that the whole project will be jeopardized. Moreover, this shows that the error was made earlier in the process planning stage and needs to be fixed.
After knowing the most common issues, it becomes easier to spot them in time and resolve them effectively.
iOS Developer's Checklist
To enhance business efficiency and save resources, iOS developers should consider the following.
Challenges and Risks
The most common challenges and risks iOS developers face are third-party providers, the team's internal communication, prioritization of tasks, and defects.
When developing software or an app, the developers may include third-party providers. For example, if the app accepts payments, a payment provider that supports an app's functionality could experience setbacks in communication, fixes, or issues on the processing side. This will automatically delay the app's release or decrease customer satisfaction.
Sometimes, issues may arise within the team. Lack of proper communication is a factor that can impede a successful launch. Issues such as cultural differences or even different time zones may further complicate the communication.
However, the main bottleneck for iOS developers remains the App Store review, as it can take up to a week. If the app is rejected, the iOS team needs to carry out fixes and then submit the app for approval again.
Here are some tips on how iOS developers can avoid the above-mentioned issues.
- Give precise estimates to developers. The developer team should always be given a time estimate so that the roadmap is more time-realistic.
- Adequately evaluate your tasks. In order to give the team precise estimates, it is first necessary to evaluate the tasks and then predict the time needed to complete them. By doing so, the team is less likely to experience delays.
- Tech design and architecture should come first. Before starting the development processes, the team should focus on tech design and architecture first. Once it is clear that it is possible to develop the app, the development cycle can start.
Now that all issues of iOS developers, if any, have been resolved, let's check the project manager's ones.
Project Manager's Point of View
It should be noted that project managers are closely associated with the release management process and have the following concerns.
Challenges and Risks
Project managers face somewhat different challenges than developers, as they focus more on software release management rather than development. They have to predict risks and tackle all types of vulnerabilities.
For example, it is up to the project manager to prevent the launch of an under-tested build that can lead to data or financial losses. Another common challenge is solving the inconsistencies between the back-end and mobile, such as the app being in production and users being unable to register.
Being a project manager is a very demanding task that comes with lots of responsibilities. They have to predict risks and prevent as many vulnerabilities as possible based on the experience they faced.
For example, it is up to the project manager to sync with the QA lead and make sure the launch of an under-tested build that can lead to data or financial losses is prevented. PMs should highlight to the team and double-check that BE changes are compatible with the old and new builds.
Being a project manager is a very demanding task that comes with lots of responsibilities. With the help of this short PM guide, you’ll be able to avoid small and large issues that might not be obvious but still dangerous for the flow of your project.
- Testing each feature to prevent the launch of an unfunctional app or software. Project managers must ensure that each feature is tested from different angles.
- Give enough time. Project managers should always ensure enough time for their team in case of a feature freeze and regression testing of the app.
- Penetration testing. It is recommended to perform penetration testing and cover the critical areas of the code before the app goes into production.
- Regression testing. Performing additional regression testing is desirable after the penetration tests are completed.
Also, there is a set of recommendations for project management before software release.
- Check if the app is working and ensure there are no bugs or crashes.
- Check if you have documented test cases for all of the functions and if all test runs of the app were successful.
- Ensure that the apps force an update if some change in the new build is critical; otherwise, the users will experience bugs.
- Perform stress-testing of the app to see what kind of workload it can take.
- Plan to release after the weekend so that if any issues arise, there will be personnel available to address them.
- Prepare release notes and ensure that all known problems are mentioned.
Now that things are clear, this checklist will come in handy for project managers to avoid major issues in their product release. The next step is to define quality assurance (QA) engineer challenges because they are the key element in testing and quality management of the software before the release.
Checklist for QA Engineer
QA engineers are responsible for improving the development process by detecting mistakes in software and preventing them from reoccurring.
QA Engineers are team members who provide confidence that the final product satisfies the stated and implied needs of its various stakeholders. They are not only in charge of bugs and defects; their role goes far beyond that.
Challenges and Risks
The challenges that QA engineers face are mostly concerned with implementation issues, complications in development, and handling the client's view on the product.
For example, communication issues can arise when the client suddenly decides to change priorities. As a result, the engineering team experiences a lot of stress and pressure because they have to shift priorities in a short period of time.
In addition, clients may suddenly change due dates and time requirements, as they are eager to launch the software or app as soon as possible.
Here are some tips on how QA engineers can avoid these troubles:
Proper communication within the team. Engineer teams should hold regular meetings and communicate progress as well as any issues.
Tackling any concerns. All team members should be encouraged to voice any concerns. That way, the team can fix issues as soon as they arise and analyze what went wrong.
Adequate task prioritization. Planning is the most powerful tool for engineers. As long as the priorities are clear, the team won't have issues completing their tasks on time.
Test the critical bugs first. Tracking bugs and getting rid of them can be an impossible task. First, it is too costly for the client, and it also takes a lot of time. For that reason, test the most critical bugs first and then take care of the rest gradually.
This QA engineer's checklist will come in handy when summing up their work.
1. Registration and login authorization
2. Password recovery
3. Biometric authorization
4. Correct information about the client
5. Two-factor authentication
6. Ability to connect to a payment system—research limitations and errors
7. Safe and secure transactions
8. Error messages and behavior of the app due to a poor or absent internet connection
9. Security issues for web and app versions of the product
10. Options to reissue a card or block an account
11. Optimization for better performance of the app, software, or website
After knowing QA engineers' main issues and solutions, the next step is to ensure the DevOps engineer is aimed at the right software release workflow. Let’s get to know the role of a DevOps engineer a bit better.
Checklist for DevOps Engineer
Development operations (DevOps) engineers are responsible for maintaining healthy collaboration between the development and operations teams.
Challenges and Risks
The main aim of the DevOps team is to keep the production infrastructure going because it's the foundation of any project. The biggest risk that can cause serious setbacks are production defects.
In addition, the DevOps teams often have to deal with the product crashing, as feature development and bug fixes are frequently carried out simultaneously. Last but not least, DevOps engineers have to keep track of the developers' work and make sure the code's correct version is used in current production.
Here are some tips on how DevOps engineers can avoid these issues.
- Regular communication. The DevOps team should regularly communicate the scope of work critical for the release and what tasks can be postponed. That way, the workload will be distributed evenly between all team members.
- Distributing the workload evenly . Being a part of the DevOps team can be stressful. All team members have to be on the same page, keep track of their own processes and the processes of others, and complete their own tasks. To prevent burnout and secure success, it is essential to distribute the workload evenly.
DevOps should be armed with the following checklist before product release.
- Examine the infrastructure's functionality and verify that all components operate as expected.
- Perform infrastructure stress testing to ensure the app doesn't experience failures due to traffic.
- Implement the best practices for security.
- Perform unit testing on the app's various parts.
- Develop an algorithm of action for the team so that they know how to solve a problem in case it comes up.
- Create maps of release risks and risky infrastructure sections that might cause errors.
- Set up monitoring for alerts and notifications about the product status.
So, for a successful fintech software release management process, there should be an understanding of the possible issues and solutions in each link of the development project: Java engineers, iOS developers, project managers, QA, and DevOps engineers. The synergy of the work of each position should ensure that the product is released smoothly and stakeholders are satisfied.
Software release management monitors and manages steps of a software release, including building the software, conducting necessary tests, and deploying the finished product. The process is critical to ensuring that a fully functional product is released; otherwise, the business risks customer dissatisfaction and possible financial loss.
Each stage of software development comes with certain challenges and risks the team has to face. We hope this article helped you understand how to ensure a successful release so that your team can be proud of the management process and make it less stressful.