Release hell

Welcome to “release hell”. When enterprise software gets deployed to production everyone runs for cover.

How we’ve got where we are and still have such a farcical release process is beyond me. Friday was day 3 of our 4 days in staging. On Tuesday, in theory, we go-live. If only we hadn’t spent two and a half days trying to get staging working. It takes a team of 15 people 20 hours to get our as-live environment, working just like live. Incredible. Imagine how much money we’re wasting.

What I don’t understand is why in a company of so many smart, over-achievers has nobody fixed this problem already?

Is it business focus? Are we too busy delivering “business value” to fix things that actually cost us a fortune? That seems impossible – the business case for fixing these things is too obvious.

Is this the limit? Have we just hit some kind of complexity wall? It doesn’t seem right to me. Other companies seem able to manage vast, complex systems – the likes of Ebay and Amazon are still in business, but deal with huge systems.

Is it a lack of ownership? No one person or team owns the whole release process. Development manage their part, then work with the IS teams to deploy it. Each side has their own processes they follow to make their lives easier, inadvertently frustrating the other.

Luckily, we’ve created a new team to tackle this. Perhaps it will work. The general consensus is that nothing will change. Just another committee that will discuss the same old problems we’ve had for years, coming up with new grand strategies that fail to actually change anything.

How do you change processes in a large software organisation?