Why is Release Management important?
Release Management is the process of assessing the contents of a new software release, planning the upgrade, maximising the benefits of new features, whilst minimising any negative impacts.
As a S2P cloud solution user, you will almost certainly be required to install new releases supplied by your software provider. To successfully manage the implementation of releases you should identify the impacts, both positive and potentially negative of each new release.
How to approach new procurement software releases?
The first step is a detailed review of the release notes to understand the implications of the changes contained in the release. Release notes are usually structured to show the enhancements being delivered in the release by module or function, bug fixes, and instructions for any configuration required to implement the changes. You should ensure release notes are reviewed by someone who is familiar with your business processes, and is capable of assessing whether a new feature will benefit the organisation, while identifying any negative impacts of the changes.
Releases usually contain features that are either switched on or require actions to activate them. Both will require some action to implement the release and leverage the maximum benefits. This may involve changes to business processes or system configuration. For changes which eliminate the need for workarounds that may have been implemented, it may involve reversing customisations that have been developed.
Software providers usually try to minimise impacts to their client’s integrations but this is not always possible, and a technical expert should closely review all the new functionality to see if any changes are required to your existing integrations.
A ‘mini business case’ should be prepared for any changes to integrations, as these are likely to be more costly and time consuming than routine configuration or process changes. Third party software providers may need to be involved, and even for internal integrations resources will need to be dedicated to making the changes and performing testing.
Introducing change to the organisation
The impact of each release on the organisation should be managed. Enhancements delivered in the release may improve usability or bring other benefits, and effective communication to the user community will increase the likelihood that these benefits will be realised.
Any relevant documentation, such as user guides, training manuals, design and support documentation needs to be updated to reflect any new functionality.
An important aspect in release management is the testing phase. You will have planned to test any new features being activated in the release. The level of this testing will depend on your organisation’s appetite for risk and may vary.
New releases may contain new features or bug fixes and may provide opportunities to improve business processes, or remove the need for workarounds you may have implemented. Even if you are not required to apply upgrades, it makes sense to do so, as staying on an old version of the system may mean that you miss out on new features which could bring benefits to your organisation, and will make the eventual upgrade process more complex and costly.
We can help your organisation with regular release management, providing a release notes review process, with recommendations for implementation, and management of your regression testing. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us!