Companies go through extensive planning before releasing a new product into the market. They go through different stages of planning, such as story mapping, to assess consumer needs for the final marketing and sales plan. Story mapping is essential in helping organizations understand customer needs, it helps to create a product that addresses these needs.
The key to a successful project is a well-developed plan. An agile release plan acts as a map of your project, providing direction and context on your project goals, expectations, and vision. Software development is incredibly difficult to predict in the long run. Often, there is unforeseen work and stress, especially if you have to meet tight deadlines. Agile release planning focuses on the short term and repeating the process, helping you adapt better and progress faster.
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What is agile release planning?
In agile release planning, you plan for incremental releases of a product. It is different from conventional software planning as it does not focus on major releases. In this process, you prepare for staged releases and break them down into several iterations. Depending on your project size and team structure, you may have several iterations running at the same time. An iteration or sprint ends with a new product increment and not necessarily a product release.
Agile release planning helps you plan which product versions get released to the market and when. It is an important part of the Agile Software Development Life Cycle. Instead of developing every software feature in one large project, the Agile SDLC breaks down the project into various stages called releases.
By scheduling Agile releases, product managers can adapt better to evolving needs and challenges during the software development stage. They can manage product constraints better while regularly providing end users with product deliverables.
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What should your product release map contain?
Every step in agile release planning is carefully outlined to create project calendars that teams can follow. Different organizations may have different release maps, but they have some common elements, such as:
- The proposed release for the project
- Plans for each release
- Iterations for the release
- Plan for each iteration
- Developing features within an iteration
- Individual tasks that are needed to deliver an iteration.
This level of planning, along with an iterative schedule that accounts for the dynamic nature of software development, makes agile product development invaluable.
Creating an agile product release plan
Today, a scrum release plan is behind the success of most software releases. Regardless of whether you host your software on SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, this plan is useful. Making a comparison between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS could be a wise business strategy to understand which cloud computing model better suits your business needs.
The following steps are a useful guide in creating the perfect product release plan for your software:
Define your vision
Your product roadmap and overall product vision should guide the whole process. The focus should be on the outcomes. The vision would help decide which features to prioritize and where to focus your efforts and resources. It will also help you determine how you can adapt if there are changes required during the development stage.
Consultation with executives and high-level stakeholders is also necessary to ensure that your vision aligns with the organization’s overall objectives.
Prioritize your product backlog
You may need to schedule a product backlog refinement meeting with your team. You will also need to break down your desired outcomes into specific user stories and add them to your backlog.
You will then need to review your backlog and prioritize the features. You may need to use stakeholder inputs and product vision to determine product priorities and map out user stories. During this step, you will need to outline a basic product release plan, which includes:
- The release goal
- The target release date
- Ranked user stories
Hold a release planning meeting
After you have outlined the release map and product vision, you need to plan a release planning meeting. Ensure to include all stakeholders in the meeting to review the proposed plan and make any changes as needed. You should also be aligned on product deliverables. Such meetings ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding collaboration and strategy.
Finalize and share the product release calendar
After the planning meeting is over, the next step is to finalize all the details and make necessary changes. You need to then share a product release calendar with all stakeholders. Make sure that everyone can access the product release plan for reference and updates. The release plan will also keep your team focused on the right set of tasks at the right time. Agile release plans significantly impact the success of your project. Therefore, it is important to create clear timeframes and process flows.
Agile release planning is a must if you want your software release to be a seamless success. The above tips and tricks are an excellent guide in helping you understand the process. Never underestimate the power of planning for effective execution.
Jonathan is a technocrat and an avid outdoor enthusiast. He is a community manager and a committed team member at Userwell.com – a subsidiary of saas.industries. When he isn’t working to make the internet a better place, Jonathan can be found exploring the great outdoors and beautiful coastlines with his sidekick, Zen, a very energetic Weimaraner.