What Is Release Management? (And How to Start Your Career in It)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Use this article to learn about release management and how you can become a competitive candidate in this career field.

[Featured Image] A person interested in release management examines code on multiple computer screens.

Release management is the process of overseeing the software development lifecycle (SDLC). It is one of the main processes of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework. It includes leading the planning, designing, testing, deploying, and releasing phases of software product development. Release management is essential to the SDLC. It ensures that the development team meets business requirements and delivers high-quality software.

Release management vs. change management

Release management and change management are closely related. Often, people use these terms interchangeably, but they are different. Although they have similarities, release and change management have several distinguishing features. You can use the chart below to compare and contrast the two.

Release managementChange management
Operational processGovernance process
ITIL framework processITIL framework process
The focus is on executing the phases of the SDLC.The focus is on quality control and obtaining change approval from stakeholders.
It always results in a release that incorporates changes.It may not result in a release.

The release management process

The release management process is often depicted as linear, but it is more like an iterative process. Each phase of the release process can be repeated as needed. The list below outlines each phase of the release management process.

1. Plan. During the planning phase of the release management process, the project's scope is defined, and all necessary authorisations happen. The release manager will also solidify a release schedule for the development team. 

2. Build. In release management, the build phase refers to the execution of development and design plans. Release activities during this phase may include configuration management and rollout planning.

3. Test. Once the release is ready for testing, the engineering team will deploy it to a test environment for bug identification. If necessary, the release will return to the developers for fixes.

4. Deploy. When the development team resolves the issues that arose during testing, the product is ready for deployment in the production environment. Here, the release will be made available to users. End-user training occurs during the deploy phase of the release management process.

5. Maintain. Post-deployment monitoring is essential to the quality of software releases. This phase of release management requires the release team to record and report any defects in the release.

The role of a release manager

A release manager is similar to a DevOps engineer. However, release managers focus primarily on the development team, the release process, and the technical specifications of a software product. In contrast, DevOps engineers also orchestrate collaboration among the entire organisation. Core responsibilities for roles in release management include the following:

  • Scheduling releases to ensure delivery is on time

  • Coordinating resources to ensure the project remains within the given budget

  • Facilitating collaboration among members of the development and quality assurance (QA) teams

  • Strategising the use of release management tools and techniques

  • Tracking and reporting project progression to the appropriate parties


Release managers belong to the occupational field of computer and information technology. The average annual base salary for a release manager in India is ₹12,84,662, according to Indeed [1]. Additional wages may include bonuses, commissions, or profit-sharing.


Roles in release management typically require a first university degree in computer science or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates with a second university degree in computer and information technology. Additional qualifications include certifications or training in relevant areas of study. 

How to become a release manager

The role of a release manager requires high-level technical knowledge and the mastery of several non-technical skills. It's easy to feel overwhelmed if you're new to the field, but remember that many release managers begin without the skills below. As you work through basic concepts, the advanced disciplines will become easier. Also, some of the skills you already possess will likely help you gain the ones you don't yet have.

Gain the essential skills.

  • Strong knowledge of digital project management. Release managers often use techniques and tools from various software project management disciplines. For example, DevOps, Agile development, Scrum, and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) are beneficial methodologies for an aspiring release manager to learn..

  • Software development expertise. A release manager must thoroughly understand computer programming, system architecture, and the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

  • Team management skills. Release managers should have a considerable amount of experience with people management. Interpersonal skills are as vital a component of release management as technical proficiency. 

Enhance your CV.

It's essential to present yourself to employers as a competitive candidate. You can enhance your release management CV in several ways. For example, you may consider browsing job listings to learn about the most in-demand skills for release managers. You can also demonstrate your abilities and earn certifications in relevant areas of study. 

Get started with Coursera

Take the first step toward your career in release management and earn a certificate from the University of Alberta in Software Project Management.

Article sources

  1. Indeed. “Release Manager Salary in India, https://in.indeed.com/career/release-manager/salaries.” Accessed July 6, 2023.

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