Career Insights: What Does a Release Manager Do?

07.12.2018

In today’s edition of Career Insights, we’re taking a look at the role of a release manager. Find out what exactly a release manager does, their typical responsibilities, and the qualifications you need to get into this field.

 

Responsibilities & Tasks Skills Background Salary Job Description


What Does a Release Manager Do?


Release managers are responsible for the release management lifecycle, focusing on coordinating various aspects of production and projects into one integrated solution. They are responsible for ensuring that resources, timelines, and the overall quality of the process are all considered and accounted for. 


Release management can apply to a number of industries, and the job role differs depending on this. A software release manager, for example, will look at a software engineering process and look to automate it. More traditional engineering roles, alternatively, will look at ways to provide automated solutions to physical processes. 


Often linked with a project management role, release managers have arguably one of the most stressful jobs across IT, as they are involved in a number of different company aspects including planning, tracking, risk management, testing, communication, and release/deployment.


Responsibilities


Typical responsibilities of a release manager include:
 

  • Planning release windows and the overall release lifecycle

  • Managing risks that may affect release scope

  • Communicate all key project plans, commitments, and changes including requirements

  • Measure and monitor progress

  • Manage relationships and coordinate projects between different teams


Tasks: The Key Steps of Release Management


There are a number of stages that go into a successful release management process:
 

  1. Release planning: In this stage, release managers will design release guidelines that should be implemented across the company.

  2. Configuring releases: Release managers will oversee the various aspects of a project before it is due to be deployed, ensuring all teams are on track and meeting the agreed guidelines.

  3. Quality Checks: The quality of the release needs to be reviewed before a project is officially launched. The release manager is in charge of ensuring Quality Assurance teams know the guidelines of the project and will check that these standards are met.

  4. Deployment: After being quality checked, the project is ready to be deployed. The release manager is still responsible for ensuring a project is rolled out smoothly and efficiently. 

 

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Required Skills for Release Managers


Release managers need a number of technical skills in order to perform well in their role, but perhaps more important are the soft skills that allow them to communicate, coordinate, and lead multiple teams within a company.


Hard Skills:

  • A good level of PC knowledge
  • An excellent understanding of computer software and programming
  • Release managers will typically specialise in a specific area of engineering, and so will need to have an expert knowledge of whatever field they are working in
  • Understanding of Continuous Delivery and Continuous Integration (CD/CI) pipelines


Soft Skills:

  • Ability to coordinate multiple teams to ensure tasks are completed in time with the release schedule
  • Leadership and analytical skills
  • Advanced communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Problem-solving


Since many companies are now working with agile software development and many more releases are made, there is a new approach to software releases. Now release managers need to use application-release automation (ARA) tools, which help cultivate DevOps and implement continuous delivery (CD) quickly.
 

ARA tools

  • Buildmaster
  • Puppet Enterprise
  • Visual Studio Release Management
  • ElectricFlow

 

 


Education/Qualifications

Release managers will typically be university-educated for this position and will need several years of experience as a release manager or project manager for smaller companies before moving into a higher-paying role. Most release managers will have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field.

Alternatively, many release managers come from the project management field, so may enter release management with previous experience in this role. Advanced knowledge of software development lifecycles is also helpful.


Salaries

According to ZipRecruiter, the salary for a release manager is between $73,000 and $161,000, depending on the size of the company and the level of experience each individual has. The average salary in the USA is around $105,000 a year.           
                   

Junior:
                       Average:
                       Senior
$ 73,000
                       $ 105,000
                       $ 160,000


Working as a freelance release manager can also be a lucrative career. The freelancermap rate index gives us an average hourly rate of $97/hr as of November 2018.


 

Job Description for a Release Manager


It is difficult to provide a specific example of the job description for a release manager, as this position can specialise in a wide range of engineering roles, from retail to maritime and logistics industries.


From a wider perspective, the job description of a release manager is to be able to work collaboratively with all teams in a software development process, including developers, testers, IT management, and project managers to ensure that updates and the building of a process is according to a timeframe. This is why excellent communication is essential for release managers.


Here’s an example:
 

Looking for a Senior Release Manager who will be supporting developers in delivering IT products fast. You will transform release processes into continuous delivery.

Required Skills:

  • Computer science degree or a comparable degree
  • In-depth knowledge in the areas of Citrix, application infrastructure (Windows server) and operating and system architecture
  • Good programming skills. C++ is a plus.
  • Multi-year project management experience
  • In-depth knowledge of common agile and / or classical procedural models (for example PMI / SCRUM or ITIL), as well as in project management and presentation techniques
  • a safe handling of project management tools
  • Experiene with build and release management, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
  • high quality standards, analytical skills and structured thinking

 

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What is the different between a Project Manager and a Release Manager?


The role of a release manager and the role of a project manager within an organisation do go hand-in-hand, with both roles focusing on the planning and coordination of multiple processes to meet company deadlines.


The key difference, however, is that a project manager will typically focus on higher aspects of a project, such as managing resources to ensure they are in keeping with budget and quality standards. A release manager, however, will focus more on day-to-day changes to help successfully deploy a project with the least disruption possible.



Do you have any experience in being a Release Manager or a Project Manager? Have any more questions about the position? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Comments

  • Commented by Senior release manager on 21.08.2019 at 19:00 h

    I've introduced the Release Manager position in Arm and exported to other companies: succesfully improved development lifecycle, delivery times, quality, test reduction, documentation quality, intra-team communication, improved planning and, trough asking questions, improved hiring practicies etc.
    Well, I would scrapt this job description as 100% inaccurate.
    You "HARD" skill section is a joke, at best. You don't need to be a programmer at all.
    You need to listen and understand developers problem and drive improvements to delivery: working with people is the real challenge here.

  • Commented by Nabaa | freelancermap.com team on 09.09.2019 at 15:03 h

    Thank you for your insight on this article. We have taken into consideration the points mentioned and will soon be updating the article with the relevant information.

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