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Jira Release Management: How to build and share Release Plans in Jira and Confluence

Introduction

When an organization delivers inter-connected applications, there are two scenarios:

  1. Delivery Teams deliver software versions that have 100% retro-compatibility → Every application can have its own release cycle, that's great :-)
  2. Some versions are not retro-compatible → Releases should be synchronized :-(

In the 2nd scenario, the task of synchronizing Releases is usually given to a Release Manager (or a Release Team), responsible for implementing processes and making sure all Delivery Teams follow them.

In the past 5 years, I discovered that too often, Release Management Teams are using E-mails (a lot of emails), Spreadsheets and Shared Calendars to support those processes. It can definitely work for a few applications, but as soon as the number of applications grows, it becomes a nightmare.

In this article, you will understand how easy it is to build a multi-application Release Plan with Jira and Golive, and share different views of the Plan with different stakeholders.

To make it real, I'm taking the example of Swiss Re, one of our customers.

 

Context

Swiss Re is the world's second-largest reinsurance company (30+ billion USD revenue, 15K+ employees).

Let's focus on a Release Management Team, responsible of the delivery of 12 (very) inter-connected applications

In September 2019, they were using a shared Excel Spreadsheet in order to store their Release Plans:

excel-timeline-release-management.png

 

Challenge

People from the Release Teams spent most of their time answering to calls and emails asking the same kind of questions:

  • Where can I find the latest version of the Release Plan?
  • Is version X.y already available on the UAT environment?
  • Why is the SIT Environment down?
  • Why have you changed the planning, again?

Also, they often had trouble when editing their Release Plans:

excel-file-in-use.png

 

Solution #1: Confluence with Team Calendars

For having a single source of truth updated in real time and accessible for everyone, they replaced their Excel file with Confluence Team Calendars:

confluence-team-calendars-timeline-release-management.pngIt was a revolution and stakeholders were happy! But there were still some requirements not entirely fulfilled:

  • How to know if the reality is in line with the plan?
  • How could people be notified when new events were scheduled on specific Environments?
  • How implement an Environment booking process?
  • How to compare the planning with the reality and understand how to improve for future releases?

They needed a proper Environment Management tool to go further in improving their Change and Release Management processes.

 

Solution #2: Jira with Golive

After having a look on the Atlassian Marketplace, they found Golive, the Release and Environment Hub for Jira.

In a few hours, they installed, configured the tool, and imported their already existing Confluence Team Calendars using the import feature.

 

Release Plans

swissre-release-timeline-jira-golive.png

Similar to Team Calendars with some advanced features like:

Swimlanes per Environment or per Calendar
→ Easily measure the impacts when planning activities and releases

Issue Calendars to display Jira issues (with dates)
→ Very useful for their infra activities that were already using Jira issues

Milestones
→ A better way to show their Deployments and Go/NoGo Meetings

 

Notifications

swissre-jira-golive-notifications.png

The possibility to watch specific environments was a game changer.
They replaced tons of emails to distribution lists by granular push notifications.
All team members and stakeholders can subscribe or unsubscribe in a single click!

 

Bamboo integration

A few weeks after migrating the Release Plans, Swiss Re decided to automate the updates of the versions deployed.

Deployed versions are now updated in real-time in all their Jira and Confluence dashboards:

release-management-dashboard-jira-swissre.png

And they can easily compare the plan (milestones) to the reality (yellow boxes):

swissre-deployment-logs-vs-planning.png

 

Results

In summary, Jira and Golive helped Swiss Re Release Management to:

  • Get a single source of truth for their Release Plans and for all activities impacting their Environments (no more spreadsheets, calendars, emails)
  • Define different views of that information, perfectly fitting the needs of each of their stakeholders
  • Connect the plan and the reality: show the Deployments on the Timeline, with an automatic synchronization with Bamboo

The Release Team noticed a 50% decrease in calls and emails after this change!

 

Conclusion

Choosing the right tools for Release Management can make a huge difference, and it takes less time than you think to install and configure it.

It took Swiss Re a couple of months from the discovery of Golive until it was live in production after a PoC phase.

Do you want to learn more about this case study and Golive?

Read the full case study on the Apwide Blog

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