Financial services

Release Management in Banking: 5 Best Practices

2 minute read


Projects and programs are an investment risk, viewed through a quality and performance lens, right up to the point of release. At this point, it becomes an operational risk and, where core systems are impacted, they become a major operational risk and vulnerability for the bank. The majority of major incidents find their root cause in some kind of change.

What is a release event?

Release Management Events are made up of highly orchestrated multi-threaded events and activities taking place in the spectrum of hours, minutes and seconds, rather than the years, months and days that the broader project would have been managed by. Success can be contingent on being able to make key decisions when confronted with the unexpected, for which there is only a limited amount of time to analyze and to make decisions on.

The support and professionalization of this area is a gap that allows significant operational risk to persist. Support is required to ensure release management events do not lead to major incidents and do not waste precious release slots. Many release managers are placed under a significant level of personal risk, due to the use of existing methods and toolsets. Conduct risk protection for the bank or organization and the release manager is required. These events should not continue to be supported by spreadsheets, email updates and protracted rounds of status calls.

5 Best Practices


Release management events need to have a clear identity of their own and must be identified as a specific event. The release management Event requires detailed planning, managed by a dedicated release manager who is accountable to the sponsors of the events. The release manager will establish the quality gates that the project will need to have satisfied before moving into release management.


A release management tool needs to provide a planning capability that is simple, intuitive and accessible to the contributors, stakeholders, and sponsors associated with the release. It is not a complex Gantt Chart with hundreds of tasks and inter-dependencies but a focused plan on the risk events and milestones that take us through to a Go/No Go decision. The planning capability must have the ability to model and assess the impact of delay to support "in-flight" re-planning.

Collaboration and Communication

The creation and execution of a release management plan (RMP) requires a high level of collaboration and communication, managed by the release manager and supported directly by release management tools. This should provide an integral dynamic approach for providing real-time status, the facilitation of conference calls and SMS/internal Instant Messaging and effectively a mission control for the RME.

Risk Control

The RME can be a major risk event and therefore there is a need for industrial-strength risk and control processes and capabilities. These must underpin the accountability and responsibility of all contributors, stakeholders, and sponsors. This includes CRAID management functionality and the ability to record all key decision-making, as well as a repository to store the artifacts and data points that underpinned those decisions.

Post-event Learning

The concept of Post Implementation Review is now somewhat outdated and these activities now go beyond reviewing what simply did and didn't go well. The tooling needs to support knowledge-based continuous learning and provide a "black-box" capability. This must support forensic analysis of the event, particularly where we are faced with conduct risk and reputational risk questions associated with post-release major incidents. There is a need to be able to "rewind and replay" the critical areas of decision making.


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