Release Engineering is how software gets packaged, shipped, and distributed to the end users.

Do Post-Mortems

Agile teams typically conduct a retrospective at the end of a sprint or projects to determine what went well and what didn't to learn and work on improvements where needed. Similarly, each release train should be proceeded by a post-mortem.

A release train retrospective meeting could include:

  • Metadata on the release train: Number of days taken, number of incidents by incident types, list of versions shipped.
  • Timeline of the release train with major events: Integration, build, testing, and publishing.
  • Any major incidents that occurred. It's important to take the time to explore what problems stopped the train to progress smoothly.
  • Any workflow gotchas discovered. Make a point to include what felt heavily manual.

This is a great opportunity to employ and learn facilitation skills and the conductor is a good person to lead this meeting. The team should ask questions and have an empathetic perspective towards understanding the problems encountered during the release train.

Once the problems are well understood, attempt to come up with solutions but this part can be left to explore after the meeting as well as each major problem identified can have multiple solutions. Start with implementing a simple solution that acts as the prototype before automating it fully.

If particular incidents occurred require other teams to be included in the meeting, hold incident post-mortems with others. Depending on its severity, these opportunities allow the teams to learn from each other and clarify any contractual boundaries that should be present among them.

Subscribe to The Release Engineer

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson