ITIL® Intermediate RCV : Introduction to Release Management

Introduction to Release Manangement

Welcome to lesson 1 of the ITIL Intermediate RCV tutorial which is a part of ITIL Intermediate RCV Foundation Certification course. This lesson focuses on an introduction to Release Management.

Let us explore the objectives of this lesson

Objectives

By the end of this ‘Introduction to Release Management’ lesson, you will be able to:

  • Understand the RCV core concepts

  • Describe the purpose, objectives, scope, and activities of service transition lifecycle phase

  • Explain the RCV processes in relation to service transition

  • Describe the activities related to overall transition planning and ongoing support.

In the next section, we will learn about Service Transition.

Service Transition

Service Transition is a stage in the lifecycle of a service. Service transition ensures that new, modified or retired services meet the expectations of the business as documented in the service strategy and service design stages of the lifecycle.

Service transition includes the following processes:

  • transition planning and support

  • change management

  • service asset and configuration management

  • release and deployment management

  • service validation and testing

  • change evaluation

  • knowledge management

Although these processes are associated with service transition, most processes have activities that take place across multiple stages of the service lifecycle.

Now let’s look at the purpose and objectives of service transition.

Purpose and Objectives of Service Transition

This section describes the purpose and objectives of Service Transition as shown below:
Purpose:

The purpose of the Service Transition stage of the service lifecycle is to ensure that new, modified or retired services meet the expectations of the business as documented in the service strategy and service design stages of the lifecycle.

Objective:

The objectives of Service Transition are to:

  • Plan and manage service changes efficiently and effectively

  • Manage risks relating to new, changed or retired services

  • Successfully deploy service releases into supported environments

  • Set correct expectations on the performance and use of new or changed services

  • Ensure that service changes create the expected business value

  • Provide good-quality knowledge and information about services and service assets.

As we have an understanding of the purpose and objectives of Service Transition, let us look at some of the key terms used in ST.

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Key Terms in Service Transition

As we have discussed earlier that ITIL is a different language altogether. Understanding different terminologies is equally important with the understanding of key concepts. Next, we will understand some of the keywords we will predominantly use during this course.

  • Asset: Any resource or capability. The assets of a service provider include anything that could contribute to the delivery of a service. Assets can be one of the following types:

- Management

- Organization

- Process

- Knowledge

- People

- Information

- Applications

- Infrastructure or financial capital.

  • Environment: A subset of the IT infrastructure that is used for a particular purpose – for example, live environment, test environment, build environment.

  • Transition: A change in state, corresponding to a movement of an IT service or other configuration items from one lifecycle status to the next.

  • Build: The activity of assembling a number of configuration items to create part of an IT service. The term is also used to refer to a release that is authorized for distribution – for example, server build or laptop Build.

  • Release: One or more changes to an IT service that are built, tested and deployed together. A single release may include changes to hardware, software, documentation, processes and other components.

  • Configuration: A generic term used to describe a group of configuration items that work together to deliver an IT service or a recognizable part of an IT service. Configuration is also used to describe the parameter settings for one or more configuration items.

Moving ahead, let us understand the scope of ST in relation to RCV process

Service Transition - Scope in Relation to RCV processes

Like every process, every phase comes with its scope or boundary within which it needs to be achieved. RCV processes in Service Transition:

  • provides guidance for the development and improvement of capabilities for transitioning new and changed services into supported environments, including release Environment, planning, building, testing, evaluation, and deployment.

  • considers service retirement and transfer of services between service providers

  • focuses on how to ensure that the requirements from service strategy, developed in-service design are effectively realized in-service operation while controlling the risks of failure and subsequent disruption.

When you look into the scope of ST in relation to RCV process, consideration is given to:

  • Managing the complexity associated with changes to services and service management processes

  • Allowing innovation while minimizing the unintended consequences of change

  • Introducing new services

  • Changes to existing services, e.g., expansion, reduction, change of supplier, acquisition or disposal of sections of user base or suppliers, change of requirements or skills availability

  • Decommissioning and discontinuation of services, applications or other service components

  • Transferring services to and from other service providers

Let us look at the scope of ST in the form of pictorial representation in the next section.

Service Transition Processes and Activities

The scope of Service Transition includes the management and coordination of the processes, systems, and functions to package, build, test and deploy a release into production and establish the service specified in the customer and stakeholder requirements.

The scope of the Service Transition lifecycle stage is shown in the picture below.
Scope of Service Transition lifecycle stage

Service Transition activities are shown in the white boxes.

The boxes highlighted in dark color represent activities in the other ITIL core publications.

There may be situations when some activities do not apply to a particular transition. For example, the transfer of a set of services from one organization to another may not involve release planning, build, test and acceptance.

The following lifecycle processes in the Service Transition Publication support all lifecycle stages such as:

  1. Change Management

  2. Service Asset and Configuration Management

  3. Knowledge Management.

Service Transition uses all the processes described in the other ITIL publications as it is responsible for testing these processes, either as part of a new or changed service or as part of testing changes to the Service Management processes.

Service level management is important to ensure that customer expectations are managed during Service Transition.

Incident and problem management are important for handling incidents and problems during testing, pilot and deployment activities.

The following activities are excluded from the scope of Service Transition best practices:

  • Minor modifications to the production services and environment, e.g., replacement of a failed PC or printer, installation of standard software on a PC or server, or a new user

  • Ongoing Continual Service Improvements that do not significantly impact the services or service provider’s capability to deliver the services, e.g., request fulfillment activities driven from Service Operations.

As we have a clear understanding of the scope of ST in relation to RCV process and its related activities depicted in the picture, now let us proceed to understand the business value of ST.

Service Transition - Value to Business

Value to Business Effective Service Transition can significantly improve a service provider’s ability to handle high volumes of change and releases across its customer base.

It enables the service provider to:

  • Align the new or changed service with the customer’s business requirements and business operations

  • Ensure that customers and users can use the new or changed service in a way that maximizes value to the business operations.

Specifically, Service Transition adds value to the business by improving:

  • The ability to adapt quickly to new requirements and market developments (‘competitive edge’)

  • Transition management of mergers, de-mergers, acquisitions, and transfer of services

  • The success rate of changes and releases for the business

  • The predictions of service levels and warranties for new and changed services

  • Confidence in the degree of compliance with business and governance requirements during the change

  • The variation of actual against estimated and approved resource plans and budgets

  • The productivity of business and customer staff because of better planning and use of new and changed services

  • Timely cancellation or changes to maintenance contracts for hardware and software when components are disposed or de-commissioned

  • Understanding of the level of risk during and after the change, e.g., service outage, disruption, and re-work.

  • Confidence in the degree of compliance with business and governance requirements during the change

  • The variation of actual against estimated and approved resource plans and budgets

  • The productivity of business and customer staff because of better planning and use of new and changed services

  • Timely cancellation or changes to maintenance contracts for hardware and software when components are disposed or de-commissioned

  • Understanding of the level of risk during and after change, e.g., service outage, disruption and re-work.

In the next section, let us discuss about the inter lifecycle stages process interaction.

Inter Lifecycle Stages Process interaction

There are two set of significant Service Management processes:

  • Processes that support the entire Lifecycle

- Change Management

- Service, Asset, and Configuration Management

- Knowledge Management

  • Service transition stage of the Service Lifecycle

- Transition, Planning, and Support

- Release and Deployment

- Service Testing and Validation

- Change evaluation

Therefore what should be the approach to Service transition by an organization? Let’s check the answer to this question in the next section.

Developing an effective Service Transition Strategy

Before we proceed to learn about the approach to Service Transition Strategy, let us learn about the various aspects to be considered for developing an effective service transition strategy. They are:

  • Purpose, Goals, and Objectives of Service Transition

  • Context

  • Scope —inclusions, exclusions

  • Applicable standards, agreements, legal, regulatory and contractual requirements activities

  • Organizations and stakeholders involved in the transition

  • Framework for Service Transition

  • Criteria –Entry, Exit, Success, Fail

  • Identification of requirements and content of the new or changed service

  • People

  • Approach

  • Deliverables from transition activities

  • Schedule of milestones

  • Financial requirements —budgets and funding

 

As approach is one of the aspects, let us now move to the next section to learn about it.

Service Transition Lifecycle Stages

The organization should decide the most appropriate approach to Service Transition based on the size and nature of the core and supporting services, the number and frequency of releases required, and any special needs of the users—for example, if a phased roll-out is usually required over an extended period of time.

The Service Transition strategy defines the overall approach to organizing Service Transition and allocating resources. The SDP should define the following lifecycle stages for a Service Transition:

  • Acquire and test input configuration items (CIs) and components

  • Build and test

  • Service release test

  • Service operational readiness test

  • Deployment

  • Early life support

  • Review and close service transition

For each stage, there will be exit and entry criteria and a list of mandatory deliverables from the stage. These criteria are often implemented as ‘quality gates’ at specific stages in the design and transition of a new or changed service. Each quality gate will define a standard set of criteria which must be met before the service can move to the next stage.

In the next section, let us discuss the initiatives that need to be focused for effective preparation of ST.

Key initiatives for effective preparation for Service Transition

There are certain key elements which need to be done during the initialization stage of Service Transition. As the configuration, baselines help to fix a point in history that people can reference and apply changes to in a manner that is understandable. Any variance in the proposed service scope, service strategy requirements, and service design baseline must be requested and managed through change management. At a minimum, it should be accepted (by people responsible for service design and service transition, and other stakeholders) that the service design and all the release units can be operated and supported within the predicted constraints and environment. The change evaluation activity performs the evaluation of the SDP and service acceptance criteria and provides a report to change management with recommendations on whether the change should be authorized.
Now let us proceed to learn about the best practices of planning and coordinating ST.


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Planning and Coordinating Service Transition: Best Practices

While planning an individual service transition, the steps given below have to be followed in accordance:

  • The release and deployment activities should be planned in stages as details of the deployment might not be known in detail initially

  • Each Service Transition plan should be developed from a proven Service Transition model wherever possible

  • A Service Transition plan describes the tasks and activities required to release and deploy a release into the test environments and into production, including:

- Work environment and infrastructure for the Service Transition

- Schedule of milestones, handover and delivery dates

- Activities and tasks to be performed

- Staffing, resource requirements, budgets, and timescales at each stage

- Issues and risks to be managed

- Lead times and contingency

In the next section, let us look at the best practices for planning an integrated service transition.

Planning and Coordinating Service Transition: Best Practices

For planning an integrated service transition following steps need to be adhered:

  • An integrated set of transition plans should be maintained that are linked to lower-level plans such as release, build and test plans

  • These plans should be integrated with the change schedule, release and deployment plans

  • Establishing good-quality plans at the outset enables Service Transition to manage and coordinate the Service Transition resources, e.g., Resource allocation, utilization, budgeting, and accounting.

  • An overarching Service Transition plan should include the milestone activities to acquire the release components, package the release, build, test, deploy, evaluate and proactively improve the service through early life support.

  • It will also include the activities to build and maintain the services and IT infrastructure, systems and environments and the measurement system to support the transition activities

Moving on, let us now discuss adopting programme and project management best practices.

Planning and Coordinating Service Transition: Best Practices

Following are the steps about Adopting Programme and Project Management best practice:

  • It is best practice to manage several releases and deployments as a program, with each significant deployment run as a project.

  • The actual deployment may be carried out by dedicated staff, as part of broader responsibilities such as operations or through a team brought together for the purpose

  • Elements of the deployment may be delivered through external suppliers, and suppliers may deliver the bulk of the deployment effort, for example in the implementation of an off-the-shelf system such as an ITSM support tool.

  • Significant deployments will be complex projects in their own right

  • This means that the deployment will contain sub-deployments for each type of elements comprising the service

In the next sections, let us look at the best practices for reviewing the plans.

Planning and Coordinating Service Transition: Best Practices

Reviewing the Plans

Following would be the best practices while reviewing the release and deployment plans:

  • The planning role should quality review all Service Transition, release and deployment plans

  • Wherever possible, lead time should include an element of contingency and should be based on experience rather than merely supplier assertion

- This applies even more to internal suppliers where there is no formal contract

- Lead times will typically vary seasonally, and they should be factored into planning, especially for long time-frame transitions, where the lead times may vary between stages of a transition, or between different user locations.

In the next few sections, we will discuss about the necessary support requirements during the service transition phase that need to be provided to all stakeholders for an effective service transition.

Providing Transition Process Support to Stakeholders - Advice

The following requirements should be fulfilled for all stakeholders:  

  • Service transition should provide support for all stakeholders to enable them to understand and follow the service transition framework of processes and supporting systems and tools.

  • Projects should implement service transition activities and tasks in accordance with applicable service transition standards, policies, and procedures.

- These should be documented by each organization based on best practices.

- When new projects start up, transition planning and support should proactively seek opportunities for establishing the service transition processes into the project quickly – before alternative methods are adopted.

- Another approach is to work closely with the programme or project support and offer support to projects via this route.

In the next section let us discuss on the administration of transition planning and support.

Providing Transition Process Support to Stakeholders - Administration

Administering the proposed service transition plan is a challenge in all the service lifecycle. ITIL suggests Transition planning and support should provide administration for:

  • Managing service transition changes and work orders

  • Managing issues, risks, deviations, and waivers

  • Managing support for tools and service transition processes

  • Monitoring the service transition performance to provide input into continual service improvement.

Changes that affect the agreed baseline configuration items should be controlled through change management.

Let us look at the importance of communication part in the next section.

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Providing Transition Process Support to Stakeholders - Communication

Communication is another important aspect which is needed in every bit of service lifecycle. That’s why managing communication throughout a service transition is absolutely critical to success. A communication plan should include:

  • Objectives of the communication

  • Defined stakeholders, including users, customers, IT staff, suppliers and customers of the business (if appropriate)

  • Communication content for each type of stakeholder

  • Communication frequency (daily, weekly, etc.), which may vary for each stakeholder group at different stages of the transition

  • Channel and format (newsletters, posters, emails, reports, presentations, etc.)

  • How the success of the communication will be measured.

Moving ahead let’s look at progress monitoring and reporting as support.

Providing Transition Process Support to Stakeholders - Progress monitoring and reporting

Progress monitoring and reporting is also an important aspect which identifies the scope of improvement. Service transition activities should be monitored against the intentions set out in the transition model and plan. Measuring and monitoring the release and deployment will establish whether the transition is proceeding according to plan.

Maintaining oversight of the actual transitions against the integrated service transition plans, release and change schedules is essential. This includes monitoring the progress of each transition periodically and at milestone or baseline points as well as receiving and chasing updates.

Management reports on the status of each transition will help to identify when there are significant variances from the plan so that, for example, project management and the service management organization can make decisions and take action.

With this, we come to the end of Module 1 and before moving to the next module let us summarize on this in the next section.

Learning Unit Summary

Here is the summary of the topics that we covered in this learning unit:

  • Service management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services

  • Service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks

  • Specialization and coordination are necessary for the lifecycle approach

  • Service Management create value for the business through: mind the gap, marketing mindset, framing the value of services, communicating the value of utility, communicating warranty, and combined effect of utility and warranty

  • In relation to RCV, the scope of Service Transition includes the management and coordination of the processes, systems, and functions to package, build,test, and deploy a release into production and establish the service specified in the customer and stakeholder requirements

  • RCV processes interact with processes within other lifecycle stages that include processes that support the service lifecycle and processes that are within Service Transition

The next lesson talks about Change Management.

 

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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