Imagine the life of your product as a string of pearls. The underlying string is the constant background plumbing: software definition processes, issue management processes, development processes, etc. It's the skeleton.
The pearls are distinct releases. Some are cultured. Others are natural. There are saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls.
Actually, that's a bad example because there's no concept of time. Time is important in release management. That's the thing we're really talking about: improving release management. So let's build a better metaphor. The life of your product is a running reel of film. That's better. The dark part between the cells -- the part perforated with holes so the projector can pull it through -- that's your plumbing. The releases are the cells. They're moving through time. The film is unfolding. We're watching it.
Now, the trick is to gather everything you need to create a particular cell so that it fits between its neighbors and let's the story flow smoothly. You need a director, writers, actors, set builders, producers (the money people), camera people, an assistant to the director, and maybe a cinematographer. Yeah, I like this. This is working.
- Stuff that goes into a cell: plot (feature development), scene tuning (bug fixes), product placement (inane client requests), shot structure (UX).
- You've got to coordinate all of those things perfectly so they not only fit together in the cell, but also in the film.
- External shareholders want to know which cells their material appears in.
- Internal shareholders want to know which cells they're expected to contribute to and what they're expected to contribute.
- That's why strong (but flexible) scheduling is a must. With long time frames, a rough estimate is adequate, but as cells draw near it's important to communicate precisely where an issue or feature will appear.
- The problem with the items mentioned in your question and other answers is that they represent a small part of the film-making process. Version numbers, version number display, CI... those are all important things but they represent a small part of a film. Maybe they're the camera people (developers) and cinematographer (architect). Remember that a lot more goes into each cell.
- Most importantly (and here's where our metaphor really shines!), remember that a good story isn't told with a single cell in a film. It's a bunch of cells together to form a scene, a bunch of scenes together to form an act. It's all about timing. Not only does everything need to come together for the cell, but the cells need to be sequenced to maximize their affect!