Enterprise Agility-The Big Picture (11): The Release Management Team

Note: In the post Enterprise Agility: The Big Picture, we introduced an overview graphic intended to capture the essence of enterprise agility in a single slide. In prior posts, we’ve discussed Agile Development Teams, Agile System Teams, Iterations , the Agile Product Owner, Backlog, User Stories and the Iteration Backlog the Release , Vision and Release Backlog , The Roadmap, and the Agile Product Manager. In this post, we’ll discuss the role of the Release Management Team [callout 11] below.


Big Picture 11-Release Team

As can be seen in the Big Picture, in addition to the Agile Teams there is typically another significant organizational unit. There is no standard convention for its name, but it takes on a Release Management Team or Steering Committee role or function (see Chapter 12 of SSA- Smaller, More Frequent Releases for further discussion of this team).

This team exists because even though empowered, the agile teams do not necessarily have the requisite visibility, quality or release governance authority to decide when and how the solution should be delivered to the end users. That is the function of the Release Management Team which is typically composed of managers and others from Layer 2 in the Big Picture. Members of this team may include some or all of the Agile Masters, but more typically includes other representatives of the enterprise, such as:

Business Owners & Product Managers, senior line-of-business managers who focus on the overarching goals of the organization and the content and market impact of the Release. Senior representatives from sales and marketing may also attend on occasion so as to be aware of the status of the upcoming release.

Vice president or director-level managers who have line management responsibility for the teams and are typically ultimately accountable for developing the solution for the marketplace.

Senior, System-level QA personnel who are responsible for final assessment of the solution’s system-level quality, performance and suitability for intended use.

Enterprise architects, CTOs, system architects who oversee the architectural integrity of the solution and have an understanding of how the architecture needs to evolve to meet future requirements.

In many agile enterprises, this team meets weekly to address the following questions:

Do the teams still clearly understand their mission?

Do we understand what we are building?

What is the status of the current release?

What impediments must we address to facilitate progress?

Are we likely to meet the release schedule, and if not, how do we adjust scope to assure that we can meet the release dates?

This forum provides weekly senior management visibility into the release status. This team also has the requisite authority to make any scope, timing or resource adjustments necessary to help assure the release. In this manner, the Release Management Team represents the final authority on all release governance issues and is a therefore an integral part of the Agile Enterprise.

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