Wrangling a Release: The Role of Release Manager


manages the project plan. The deliverables are defined by the requirements and defects that make up a release and the product direction prescribed by the product manager. The project manager should be intimately involved on the project’s change control board (CCB) and aware of any change of scope and direction to their project. The project manager role should manage the internal dependencies of a project and ensure any internal parallel development efforts are integrated effectively as appropriate (for both build and run time).


In many cases, there are other products in which this release is dependent. The project manager is aware of the dependencies and must ensure that the dependency product is ready for them to test against, but it is the release manager role that focuses on ensuring the dependencies are available according to the schedule of their release.  In a more agile environment, the ScrumMaster would play this role but use sprint planning to manage changes that are provided by the product manager (often called the product owner in agile).


Product Manager

The primary role of a product manager is to focus on the product direction by establishing the product roadmap and vision.  This role solicits requirements from customers to help define the release deliverables.  In a more agile model, this role will continuously solicit requirements from customers to ensure that the release is an accumulation of deliverables that the customer actually wants (based on changing customer needs and market conditions).  This includes identifying customers who can validate their needs either in an end-of-sprint review (if they are more agile based) or in a user acceptance test (UAT) if they are more waterfall-based.   In addition, the product manager will focus on acquiring the appropriate funding for product development and participate in the marketing of the product.


In a more waterfall lifecycle, the product manager is not involved in the day-to-day tasks of a project release but in a more agile lifecycle, the product manager would participate more regularly in activities such as sprint planning and end-of-sprint review.   The product manager may be involved in the high-level coordination of dependent product items with other product managers to get buy-in to ensure the other products will be available.


About the author

Mario  Moreira's picture Mario Moreira

Mario Moreira is a Columnist for the CM Journal, a writer for the Agile Journal, an Author, an Agile and CM expert for CA, and has worked in the CM field since 1986 and in the Agile field since 1998. He has experience with numerous CM technologies and processes and has implemented CM on over 150 applications/products, which include establishing global SCM infrastructures. He is a certified ScrumMaster in the Agile arena having implemented Scrum and XP practices. He holds an MA in Mass Communication with an emphasis on communication technologies. Mario also brings years of Project Management, Software Quality Assurance, Requirement Management, facilitation, and team building skills and experience. Mario is the author of a new book entitled “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams” (via Wiley Publishing). It provides an Agile Primer and a CM Primer, and how to adapt CM practices for Agile Teams. Mario is also the author of the CM book entitled, “Software Configuration Management Implementation Roadmap.” It includes step-by-step guidance for implementing SCM at the organization, application, and project level with numerous examples. Also consider visiting Mario’s blog on CM for Agile and Agile adoption at http://cmforagile.blogspot.com/.

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