In ITIL, release management is a key process in Service Transition, and this process should be thought of as a coordination and collaboration process. What does this mean? Every function within an organization has specialized processes to do their work in a consistent way. Sometimes the processes are very formal (i.e. documented, audited, etc.) and sometimes not. Release management does not replace the specialized functional processes, but coordinates activities between them in a service-oriented fashion with change management leading the effort.
Release management in many organizations is done within each specialized technical (or functional) areas, including Database Management, Network Management, Application Management, Desktop Management, and Server Management. And, more often than not, each area is working independently in relation to the release of a change.
In many cases, each of the specialized functional areas will get a hand off or trigger to start their release activities, such as the network team starting their independent work. Each team may schedule time in staging area to perform the requirements independent of each other. This same behavior usually follows in the production area. These independent work efforts for “operational efficiency” should be under change control, however they produce risks and lead to uncoordinated, inefficient management of production assets. And, we’ve all seen the results that these silos can cost, like an increase in production downtime and inevitably unhappy customers.
This ITIL process itself is combined in practice with deployment management. Release is responsible for building and testing a release with all the activities that support this effort. Deployment is responsible for installation, including training personnel for the release. Both release and deployment should be an integrated part of the change management process, and these processes should not work in a silo fashion but take advantage of specializations found in other process and functional areas.
The ITIL release and deployment process should fit on top of specialized technical and application process areas to help with service orientation. Overall teamwork, coordination, and collaboration between the functional areas will quickly lead to better usage of assets and an improvement in efficiency and effectiveness.