Product Release Management

Does each product release look like this?

product release process saas 1 1

Chaos. Pure chaos. And even if it doesn’t look chaotic, it might feel chaotic.

  • Last-minute bug bashes find 87 problems 2 days before launch
  • A few weeks before the product release launch, the CEO wants the entire branding of the product to change

There’s always something… Product releases never go perfectly as planned.

That’s why, in this guide, we share some important product release best practices that you should consider for each release. We even built an easy-to-follow checklist.

Table of Contents


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5 Common Product Release Management Issues

1. Undetected Bugs and Defects

Despite rigorous testing, undetected bugs and defects can emerge after a product release, leading to unexpected system crashes, errors, and user dissatisfaction.

2. Deployment Failures

Deployment failures can occur due to inconsistencies in deployment scripts, environmental differences, or unexpected dependencies, leading to disruptions in service.

3. Communication Breakdown

Poor communication among cross-functional teams can result in misalignment of expectations, missed deadlines, and misunderstandings about release requirements.

4. Scope Creep

Scope creep occurs when additional features or changes are introduced during the release process, leading to delays, resource constraints, and potential conflicts.

5. Inadequate Rollback Strategy

In the event of a critical issue or failure post-release, an inadequate or missing rollback strategy can prolong downtime and negatively impact user experience.

What Is The Difference Between Change Management And Release Management?

The purpose of change management is to make sure that changes and adjustments in the environment have a minimum impact on other parts of the system.

The objective of release management is to manage software releases, which can be seen as implementation or a significant modification of a product. Release managers usually deal with version control, managing testing and documentation processes before launching it into production.


Product Release Management Process: A Checklist

This checklist is just a starting point! You’ll need to tweak it for your specific product, team resources, and goals.

If you’d like to see more robust information about the different phases, then scroll down towards the bottom of this article.

1. Release Planning Phase:

☐ Define clear release objectives and goals.

☐ Identify the scope of the release, including features, enhancements, and bug fixes.

☐ Determine the target audience for the release.

☐ Select the appropriate language and communication channels for release announcements.

☐ Outline the deployment process, considering test servers, production environments, and user devices.

☐ Identify stakeholders involved in the release and their responsibilities.

☐ Assess potential risks and devise mitigation strategies.

☐ Establish an approval process for the release.

2. Pre-Release Preparation and Testing:

☐ Create comprehensive documentation for the release, including user guides, installation instructions, and release notes.

☐ Ensure documentation is clear and concise for developers and end-users.

☐ Verify adherence to organizational guidelines and coding standards.

☐ Perform thorough unit testing, integration testing, and regression testing.

☐ Conduct user acceptance testing (UAT) with relevant stakeholders.

☐ Identify and document both successful and failed testing scenarios.

☐ Address and resolve any reported bugs and issues.

3. Deployment Phase:

☐ Plan the deployment schedule, considering the least impactful time for users.

☐ Ensure deployment is adequately planned in advance.

☐ Double-check that potential risks have been identified and mitigated.

☐ Obtain necessary approvals from change management or relevant governing bodies.

☐ Package the release with appropriate version control and labeling.

☐ Verify that the deployment package is authorized and ready for release.

4. Release Execution:

☐ Deploy the release to the designated environment(s), such as test servers or production systems.

☐ Monitor the deployment process and ensure it runs smoothly.

☐ Validate the release in the target environment to confirm its functionality.

☐ Conduct post-deployment testing to identify any issues that may arise during or after deployment.

☐ Monitor system performance and gather metrics to assess the impact of the release.

5. Evaluation and Continuous Improvement:

☐ Collect feedback from stakeholders involved in the release process.

☐ Assess whether the release met quality and performance requirements.

☐ Document any errors, challenges, and lessons learned during the release.

☐ Facilitate knowledge transfer between teams to share insights and best practices.

☐ Analyze the release process and identify areas for improvement.

☐ Review and refine the release process based on feedback and analysis.

☐ Implement automation and standardization wherever possible.

6. Communication and Documentation:

☐ Maintain clear and transparent communication channels among teams.

☐ Keep stakeholders informed about the progress and status of the release.

☐ Update documentation to include any changes or improvements made to the process. Use AnnounceKit’s changelog management software to do this.

☐ Ensure that all team members are well-versed in the standardized release process.

7. Post-Release Monitoring and Support:

☐ Continuously monitor the released product for any post-release issues.

☐ Provide timely support and assistance to users encountering problems.

☐ Track user feedback and requests for future improvements.

☐ Incorporate user feedback into future iterations of the product.

Product Release Process: Broken Down Into 7 Phases

1. Release Planning Phase

Why this phase is important?

The Release Planning Phase sets the foundation for a successful release by defining objectives, scope, stakeholders, and strategies. It ensures alignment among teams, establishes clear expectations, and minimizes misunderstandings throughout the process.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Set Clear Objectives: Define the purpose and goals of the release. This helps teams focus on achieving specific outcomes.

2. Scope Definition: Clearly outline what features, enhancements, or fixes will be included in the release. This prevents scope creep.

3. Identify Target Audience: Determine who the release is intended for, be it internal users, customers, or a specific market segment.

4. Communication Strategy: Establish how and when communication about the release will occur, including announcements, documentation, and support.

5. Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks associated with the release, such as compatibility issues or security vulnerabilities.

6. Stakeholder Mapping: Identify all stakeholders involved in the release, both internal and external, and define their roles.

7. Approval Process: Define a clear process for obtaining approvals from relevant stakeholders before proceeding to the next phases.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Unclear Objectives: Failing to define clear objectives can lead to confusion and misalignment among teams.
  • Scope Ambiguity: A lack of well-defined scope can result in unexpected changes during later stages of the release.
  • Inadequate Communication: Poor communication strategies can lead to misunderstandings and misinformation.
  • Incomplete Risk Assessment: Neglecting risk assessment can result in unforeseen issues during deployment.
  • Stakeholder Overlook: Ignoring key stakeholders can hinder the release’s success and adoption.

2. Pre-Release Preparation and Testing

Why this phase is important?

Pre-Release Preparation and Testing ensure that the release is of high quality, functional, and meets user expectations. Thorough testing minimizes post-release issues and enhances user satisfaction.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Documentation Creation: Develop clear and comprehensive documentation, including release notes, installation guides, and user manuals.

2. Guideline Adherence: Ensure that development adheres to established coding standards and best practices.

3. Testing Strategy: Plan the testing process, encompassing unit, integration, regression, and user acceptance testing.

4. Bug Resolution: Address and resolve any identified bugs or defects before moving to deployment.

5. User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Engage relevant stakeholders to validate that the release meets user requirements and expectations.

6. Scenario Documentation: Document both successful and unsuccessful testing scenarios for reference and improvement.

7. Issue Tracking: Implement a system to track and manage reported issues during testing.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Incomplete Documentation: Insufficient or unclear documentation can lead to confusion for users and support teams.
  • Testing Gaps: Inadequate testing coverage can result in undetected bugs or functionality gaps.
  • UAT Neglect: Failing to involve stakeholders in UAT may result in the release not meeting user needs.
  • Lack of Bug Resolution: Ignoring reported bugs can lead to post-release issues affecting user experience.
  • Ineffective Issue Tracking: Poorly managed issue tracking can lead to overlooked problems and delays in resolution.

3. Deployment Phase

Why this phase is important?

The Deployment Phase ensures that the release is effectively transitioned to production environments or user devices. A well-executed deployment guarantees a seamless user experience and minimizes disruptions.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Deployment Schedule: Plan the deployment timeline, considering peak usage times and minimizing user impact.

2. Risk Management: Mitigate potential risks associated with deployment, such as data loss or service interruptions.

3. Approval and Authorization: Obtain necessary approvals from relevant parties before proceeding with deployment.

4. Version Control: Ensure that the correct version of the release package is used for deployment.

5. Deployment Testing: Test the deployment process in a controlled environment to identify and address potential issues.

6. Monitoring and Validation: Continuously monitor the deployment process to ensure that it progresses smoothly.

7. Rollback Plan: Prepare a well-defined plan for reverting to the previous version in case of deployment failure.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Poor Planning: Inadequate planning can lead to disruptions during deployment and impact user experience.
  • Unaddressed Risks: Neglecting to mitigate risks can result in unexpected issues during deployment.
  • Version Confusion: Deploying the wrong version can lead to inconsistencies and unintended changes.
  • Insufficient Testing: Failing to thoroughly test the deployment process can lead to errors during actual deployment.
  • Missing Rollback Plan: An absent or incomplete rollback plan can prolong downtime and user dissatisfaction.

4. Release Execution

Why this phase is important?

The Release Execution Phase marks the actual deployment of the release to production environments. Successful execution ensures that users have access to the latest version of the product with minimal disruptions.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Deployment Monitoring: Continuously monitor the deployment process and address any unexpected issues promptly.

2. Functional Validation: Validate that the deployed release functions as expected in the production environment.

3. Performance Metrics: Monitor system performance and gather metrics to assess the impact of the release.

4. User Communication: Inform users about the release, its benefits, and any changes in functionality.

5. Support Readiness: Ensure that the support team is prepared to address user inquiries and issues post-release.

6. Feedback Collection: Establish channels for users to provide feedback about their experience with the new release.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Lack of Monitoring: Failing to monitor the deployment process can lead to unnoticed issues affecting users.
  • Functional Failures: Deployed release not functioning as expected can lead to user dissatisfaction.
  • Inadequate Performance Monitoring: Ignoring performance metrics can result in underperforming systems and slow response times.
  • Miscommunication to Users: Poor communication about the release can lead to confusion and frustration among users.
  • Unprepared Support Team: A support team unprepared for user inquiries can hinder problem resolution.

5. Evaluation and Continuous Improvement

Why this phase is important?

The Evaluation and Continuous Improvement Phase allows for reflection on the release process, learning from successes and failures, and making informed decisions for future releases. It ensures that each release contributes to ongoing enhancement.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Stakeholder Feedback Collection: Gather feedback from stakeholders involved in the release process, including development, testing, operations, and users.

2. Quality and Performance Assessment: Evaluate whether the release met the predefined quality and performance standards.

3. Error Documentation: Document any errors, challenges, and lessons learned during the release for reference and improvement.

4. Knowledge Transfer: Facilitate knowledge sharing between different teams involved in the release.

5. Debate and Discussion: Encourage open discussions and debates based on the release process and outcomes.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Neglected Feedback Collection: Failing to collect feedback can lead to missed opportunities for improvement.
  • Quality and Performance Oversight: Not assessing quality and performance can lead to repeated issues in subsequent releases.
  • Underdocumented Errors: Inadequate documentation of errors hinders future reference and improvement.
  • Knowledge Silos: Failing to transfer knowledge between teams can result in repeated mistakes and inefficiencies.
  • Lack of Reflection: Ignoring debate and discussion prevents learning from past experiences.

6. Communication and Documentation

Why this phase is important?

The Communication and Documentation Phase ensures that stakeholders are informed about the release process and outcomes. Comprehensive documentation facilitates knowledge transfer and supports future releases.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Team Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication channels among teams involved in the release.

2. Stakeholder Updates: Keep stakeholders informed about the progress, status, and outcomes of the release.

3. Documentation Updates: Update documentation to reflect changes and improvements made to the release process.

4. Knowledge Centralization: Ensure that documentation is accessible and centralized for easy reference.

5. Feedback Channels: Establish channels for stakeholders to provide feedback on the release process.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Inadequate Communication: Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and misaligned expectations.
  • Neglected Stakeholder Updates: Failing to update stakeholders can result in confusion and frustration.
  • Outdated Documentation: Ignoring documentation updates can lead to reliance on outdated information.
  • Lack of Centralization: Scattered documentation hinders knowledge transfer and process improvement.
  • Absence of Feedback Channels: Not providing feedback avenues prevents valuable input for process enhancement.

7. Post-Release Monitoring and Support

Why this phase is important?

The Post-Release Monitoring and Support Phase ensures that users have a positive experience with the release and addresses any issues that may arise. It helps maintain user satisfaction and guides future improvements.

How to successfully implement this phase?

1. Issue Monitoring: Continuously monitor for post-release issues and address them promptly.

2. Timely Support: Provide timely and effective support to users encountering problems.

3. User Feedback Utilization: Track and analyze user feedback to identify trends and areas for improvement.

4. User-Requested Features: Incorporate user-requested features and improvements into future iterations.

5. Performance Optimization: Implement performance optimizations based on user behavior and feedback.

Common issues with this phase:

  • Lack of Monitoring: Neglecting post-release monitoring can lead to unresolved issues affecting user experience.
  • Delayed Support: Slow or inadequate support can frustrate users and hinder problem resolution.
  • Underutilized User Feedback: Ignoring user feedback prevents valuable insights for future enhancements.
  • Unaddressed User Requests: Failing to incorporate user-requested features can lead to user dissatisfaction.
  • Performance Neglect: Ignoring performance issues can lead to a decrease in user satisfaction and engagement.

4 Phases of Product Release and Deployment Management

1. Release and Deployment Planning

During the release deployment and planning stage, guidelines and objectives have to be clearly defined.

The points below are the most critical points to pay attention to.

  • What should be included in the release?
  • Who is the target audience of the release?
  • What is the appropriate language for the release?
  • How will be the deployment process?
  • Who are the stakeholders of the release?
  • What are the potential risks?
  • What are the responsibilities of each individual or team?
  • How is the approval process of the release?

2.Creation and Testing

After required approvals for the plans, the release has to be built, and the people in charge start the testing process. All elements of the release plans have to be ready, including documentation.

The following points are important to pay attention at this stage:

  • Is the documentation clear enough for developers to build release efficiently?
  • Is your organization following the guidelines?
  • Are you keeping records of the best and the worst practices to improve processes and avoid unnecessary repetitive work?
  • Is testing implemented in each aspect of the release?


The deployment process is the process that you have to make sure that your product is ready to be used since it is the stage of making the application work on a target device. It could be a test server, production environment, or user`s device. When the release is handed over to service operations, the deployment process usually ends.

Here are the important points :

  • Is your deployment planned adequately in advance?
  • Have you identified the potential risks?
  • Have you mitigated the potential risks?
  • Is your release packed authorized by the change management?


Now it is time to learn from the process and close the release package. It is essential to understand that it is working for you to improve your strategy. We highly recommend you collect feedback from each stakeholder and start a debate.

Here are the important points :

  • Have you collected feedback from each stakeholder?
  • Are the quality and the performance requirements met?
  • Have you documented the errors properly and clearly?
  • Have you created channels to transfer knowledge between different teams?
SDLC Software Development Life Cycle

How To Improve The Release Process?

Improving the release process is a challenge for many organizations. Many do not know where to start or what they should do first. Here are the ways that can help you improve your release processes.

1. Evaluate the existing release management process

Before improving a process, it is crucial to understand the pain points. Thus, try to pay attention to the issues resulting in an imperfect release management process. Do a quick evaluation of the current people, their performances, capabilities, processes, and release management tool.

2. Improve the Internal Communication Strategy

This is when you should improve the communication and operations team and developer team to shorten feedback processes and understand the stakeholders’ responsiveness. Thanks to improved communication and well-defined strategy, it will help teams understand responsibilities and find the points of improvement easier. Keep in mind that your internal communication must be transparent, direct, and open channels for feedback and discussion.

3.Increase the number of testing

Testing your release management process often is one of the fundamental approaches to improve efficiency:

  1. It will help you to create FAQ documentation to improve your release management process.
  2. Doing continuous testing and analyzing the results will lead to permanent improvement and efficiency. Do more and more minor testing to identify pain points faster.
  3. It is easier to do and analyze the results in small testing.

4. Standardize and Automate

Automation will enable your teams to spend less time on repetitive tasks. In other words, your teams will have more time to focus on developing new features rather than focusing on repetitive tasks. Automation and standardization should be implemented to each stage of your release management plans such as development, configurations, and testing to be more efficient. Moreover, your inputs and outputs will become consistent.

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