One of the biggest challenges in agile project management is determining what tasks are needed to complete a project, how long each should take, and who needs to carry them out.
The agile release plan helps in aligning the teams by addressing multiple aspects that can contribute to creative and innovative problem-solving. Your agile release plan will ultimately show you what you can expect out of each sprint and ensure your efforts are laser-focused. However, knowing how to set achievable goals and use agile release plan templates tailored to your company’s needs is crucial to remain competitive and profitable.
When you know how to create an agile release plan duly, you no longer have to rely on guesswork but can base decisions on accurate data. This guide will show you exactly how to build one, from the ground up so you can start impressing your stakeholders sooner.
What is an Agile Release Plan?At its core, agile release planning is a process that enables development teams and product owners to forecast the scope of their projects for optimizing resources and people. It helps in improving the quality of work performed, minimizing loss, and improving success rates.
Agile release planning is a product management method where you plan incremental releases of a product. It differs from traditional software planning where you focus on major releases.
This approach allows more efficient development, faster time-to-market analysis, and easier product evolution. Agile teams plan their work in stages known as “sprints” to ensure everyone is on the same page, and that the goals and expectations are appropriately aligned.
A release plan is the high-level schedule of deliverables that the team commits to producing over a series of sprints. It tells management, product owners, stakeholders, and developers what will be delivered and when.
A release plan dictates when a particular piece of software will be ready for customers to use. An agile release plan also describes the features included in each sprint and offers flexibility if sprint goals aren’t met.
The goal of a product release is to get the most product features out to market at a given time. So, the release plan should outline the order in which features and fixed bugs should be released. In this way, you can manage the movement of small increments of work through development to product release.
The Objective of Agile Release PlanningRelease plans can be used for several different purposes, but their primary goal is to guide decision-making about how much work to perform and how quickly to perform it.
They are also used as tools for communicating with others in the organization, particularly other management teams. Release planning provisions the capability for incremental, iterative delivery of progressively more complete functionality. The team is allowed to add details in the form of requirements and tasks as development proceeds.
At the end of each iteration, all of the increments should fit together and make up a shippable product. Agile teams deliver products based on a plan determined by what they can deliver with time, technology, and resources available to them.
They base their plans on the best available information that they have at the time. Agile release planning is a process of breaking product development down into multiple cycles to identify the highest priority items and deliver them quickly and efficiently. Release plans are often used in Agile project management because they can help to balance speed and flexibility with realistic planning.
Release planning is the process of developing a set of prioritized product features your team intends to implement and deliver at some point in the future. The release plan translates product strategy and vision into concrete, usable software that can be offered to customers.
Steps to Create an Effective Agile Release PlanWith the help of an agile release plan, one can quickly respond to new product challenges and achieve the desired results. Apart from this, the individual can get a preview of all the tasks that are included in the project. If you want to get your product out in the market within time and budget, you need to have a good release plan that serves as an efficient guide for the development team.
To get you started on agile release planning, we’ll try to simplify the whole process into a few easy steps. These will help you prepare an effective Agile Release Plan that is useful for every customer and provides value for every project.
Determine your Release Goal
- First of all, determine what product version should be released to the end users.
- Identify what you're hoping to achieve, and ensure that your release plan is aligned with the larger vision for your product.
- Once you have identified the potential features of your product and listed them down, group them in a way that can be measured.
- Discuss the different goals for future versions among your team project managers, one that can be feasibly met during the next release.
- Failing to define the objective and vision of your product will result in a waste of resources, money, and effort.
Determine Product Requirements
- After deciding on the project goal, your next step is to determine the product requirement and identify which functions are most important for this release.
- It will allow you to focus on these features rather than working on a lot of other aspects that are not as important in this release.
- This way, a team can focus on the most important functions of the product and ignore other aspects that if worked on might derail your project from its primary goal.
- Ensure the features you choose to add in a specific release are completed so that they are available for use right away.
- It should be done in straight communication with the client and the development team.
Prioritize Product Backlog
- The product backlog is a prioritized list of the features or user stories a product owner wants to build in order to move the project forward.
- In other words, it is a planning tool that outlines everything you’d like to add to your product and how those features should be prioritized during development.
- When using the agile framework, the product backlog is dynamic, it can change as necessary throughout the project.
- The product backlog must be reviewed and refined to ensure that it contains the appropriate items, that the items are prioritized, and that the relative priority among items is clear.
- You also need to consider size and complexity while prioritizing these user stories in order to ensure a realistic timeline for each milestone/iteration.
Estimate the Release Plan Meeting
- Agile release planning involves determining the software deliverables and outlining the steps that should be taken to successfully achieve them.
- In the release planning meeting, it’s important to discuss the proposed release plan with your Agile team and stakeholders.
- You must review the requirements of the product backlog, estimate the time for each requirement, and depending on their priority of implementation, you can schedule a sprint accordingly.
- A release planning meeting helps to align your resources and goals with the overall vision of the company.
- It involves you, your team members, and other stakeholders who decide what should be included in the upcoming releases.
Divide Releases into Multiple Sprints
- In case you are uncertain about how much work you can assign to your team in a single sprint, start by issuing a small number of targets that they can manage.
- Based on the team’s feedback, you can further create an accurate estimation of the number of sprints required for the completion of a release.
- Before defining the sprint, conduct a brief meeting with your team to understand if they can manage or create the story in the required time.
- You can also incorporate their feedback during the planning phase to ensure that Sprint is realistic and doable.
- In consonance, consider other factors like technical dependencies, holiday seasons, and others.
Develop Release Sprint
- This step is very important and often forgotten in release planning: creating a release sprint.
- A release Sprint is dedicated to the new value you want to deliver to your users, customers, and stakeholders.
- This is the time you can bring together all the different teams and assign tasks accordingly.
- In this way, you have an overview of all the important parts of your backlog, including tasks related to your development workflow.
- A release Sprint can be a very exciting time since you will actually have your hands on the development process.
Determine the Release Date
- Now that you have an insight into the entire process, it is time to align all the steps in your release plan and set a target date.
- Consider all the dates derived from previous steps while creating a tentative timeline.
- If you are creating multiple milestones in your plan, don’t forget to schedule them in the calendar detailing the release dates and task deadlines.
- A proper schedule will help you keep your team on track and help everyone understand their role and responsibilities for each milestone.
- You should schedule the target date for release based on the size of your project and the scope of work.
Upgrade & Update the Plan Regularly
- You need to keep your plan in a process of continuous improvement, and this requires you to update and revise it continuously throughout the life cycle of the project.
- Otherwise, you will not be able to keep up with the latest changes and proactively manage all outstanding issues.
- Furthermore, you should collect feedback from your team members and stakeholders to modify the plan appropriately and keep it up-to-date with all changes in the project.
- You should always be ready to tweak your plans to make them suit the current situation.
- Your plan should be regarded as a "live document" that can be changed as circumstances dictate.
Factors to Consider Before Creating an Agile Release PlanSince it is impossible for a team to predict all of the issues that may come up during development, the final product will likely have some differences from what was outlined in the planning phases before development began.
These plans must be based on facts rather than guesses or wishful thinking; otherwise, they will not serve as useful planning documents. Before you start creating a plan, it's important to consider the following:
- If you're creating a plan for an iteration or a release
- If you have enough data to calculate your team's velocity
- If you have measurable goals
- The length of the time period in the software development life cycle (SDLC) that your plan will cover
Benefits of Agile Release PlanRelease planning creates a big-picture view of the project. That allows agile teams to see how their teamwork and effort support the entire project. This can be very motivating for teams that otherwise have no idea how all the seemingly random daily tasks fit into a larger roadmap.
It allows them to see what they are working toward, understand why they do what they do, and where their contributions fit into the bigger picture. Plans don’t guarantee success, but they do affect the likelihood of it.
If you plan in a way that avoids failure, you will be successful. You need to define your shared goal and then use that goal as the criteria by which you evaluate your plans for achieving it.
While there is no guarantee that you will succeed, release planning with agile gives you a better chance of success than if you didn't plan at all. Agile planning improves the whole communication process.
Release planning lets the team understand customer expectations and establish more realistic time frames for sprint planning. As a result, agile releases can deliver more projects on time.
ConclusionIn web design and development, we often get lost in the process. An agile release plan helps us stay focused on the goals and accomplish major releases. By developing and maintaining an agile release plan, you provide the overall foundation for successful agile development.
Your customers, business owners, and your team members all benefit from this comprehensive approach to outlining the requirements of the next release. It takes time to develop, but once it’s ready your progress will be accelerated by leaps and bounds. In conclusion, agile release planning means your team outlines the scope and the big picture of any upcoming release.
This saves you time, money, and dread. You go into each sprint or development cycle with goals and purpose. Smaller steps taken in the right direction can then help you reach the elusive milestone on time.