There’s always a need for speed. Development needs to happen faster, testing needs to be executed quicker, fixes need to be resolved more rapidly, deployments need to roll out sooner. After all, a long software release cycle is unfavorable in competitive markets where consumers expect updates and releases instantly.
On the flip side, a software release process centrally focused on speed often neglects attention on product quality. What’s the benefit of a fast delivery if product end-users receive a flawed user experience?
So, how do companies choose between speed and quality?
The answer is simple: choose both. Sacrifice is not needed with a solid software release strategy in place. Improving your software release cycle for both speed and quality is all about following software release management best practices and tracking the right release management metrics. Let’s explore the steps your team should take to get your release management process back on track.
What is Release Management?
Release management is the process of overseeing every stage involved in a software release, from development and QA testing to deployment and tracking.
Avoiding a long software release cycle is crucial for product success and consumer satisfaction. That’s why we recommend incorporating software release management best practices within your software release cycle, including developing a sound software release strategy and measuring release management metrics over time to ensure productivity and performance.
6 Tips to Improve Your Software Release Cycles
A long release cycle often stems from an underdeveloped strategy, limited team collaboration or poor transparency. Therefore, your software release strategy must focus on incorporating software release management best practices within your software release process in order to be successful. Here’s how to release a software product right so that your software release cycle delivers a quality product to market faster.
Set Clear Goals and Requirements
You can expect an extended release cycle if you don’t have distinct goals defined within your release management process. The first step to improving your software release cycle is to be clear on what your team wants to accomplish for that release. Answer these questions:
- What are your goals for this release?
- What quality expectations must be met before deployment?
- What release management metrics can you measure to track progress towards these goals?
- What resources are available for you to meet these goals?
With clear goals and requirements in place, you can effectively communicate expectations across teams before the software release process begins. That way, you can align all team members on Day One of the project as well as answer clarifying questions early in the cycle that can prevent misunderstandings and delays.
Prioritize Communication and Transparency
Participation is key for a successful software release cycle. To achieve this, all participants—from business stakeholders to developers and testers—must be actively engaged throughout the release management process. If your teams are not frequently and consistently informed throughout the cycle, you can expect them not to prioritize expectations of this release on their to-do list.
Deliver your communication clearly and regularly so that everyone knows the expected outcomes of this release as well as the steps to be taken to achieve these outcomes. Provide a seamless experience for any team member to retrieve any release-related information they need in real time.
Create a Consistent Release Schedule
There are so many positives that creating a consistent release schedule unlocks. Developers and testers can expect a routine process, making it easier to complete deliverables on time. Customers can enjoy a dependable pattern of product updates and releases, thus increasing their investment and engagement with your products.
Your software release strategy should include a developed target release plan for the next 12 months. While the expectations of future releases may evolve over time, the purpose is to lock in future release dates. This helps your teams work together to reach final release dates as well as immediate goals within the current software release cycle.
Record Your Release Plans
Your team can’t follow software release management best practices successfully without documenting every step of the journey. When you create an accessible record of your release plans, your defined project objectives are not only in writing but can also be referenced throughout the process.
Your release plans should include:
- Goals of the release
- Quality expectations to be met before deployment
- Participant roles within the process
- Step-by-step activities to be completed before release
Make sure to store your release plans in an environment that all participants can easily access and that allows for document versioning and updating. Furthermore, communicate clearly how team members can access your release plans, particularly to newer participants within the process.
Identity Automation Opportunities
You can’t speed up your software release cycle and maintain product quality without incorporating automation. In fact, automation is designed to perform any repetitive manual test case so that your QA engineers can focus their energy on key priorities requiring strategic insight. Automation saves valuable time and reallocates essential human resources while reducing human error when testing and guaranteeing more consistent testing results.
Analyze your release process, particularly areas focused on code quality, security, accessibility and usability. Are there opportunities where automation can streamline the process? Are there test cases that can benefit from test automation?
Implement Continuous Testing
Bottlenecks occur within the process when large chunks of code are deployed for testing and when testing occurs at only one point of the cycle. This can be easily solved with continuous testing, a practice designed to continually run tests within up-to-date staging environments so that defects can be reported sooner and issues can be resolved faster.
Continuous testing can only be effective with a testing environment that is regularly updated. Make it a standard within your release cycle to deploy smaller code updates more frequently and submit communication to your QA team on which test cases can be executed.
Track Your Progress
How can you be sure that the changes you’re making to your release cycle are improving your speed and product quality?
When you measure the right release management metrics, you always know where your team stands within the release process. Identify opportunities for improvement by tracking these stats during your release cycle:
- Type of release
- Average release times
- Number of errors
- Percentage of failed changes
If your team needs further assistance with your software release cycle, consider partnering with an experienced QA services provider like QASource. Our team of testing experts specialize in DevOps practices and are skilled in test automation. Let our engineers help your team restructure your software release strategy so that it aligns with your company goals and product needs. Get in touch with a QASource expert today.