Release planning allows the Product Owner to manage the rollout of capability in order to obtain feedback and assess progress.
When to Use Revenues and Profits
If the project is large enough to require five or more two to three week Sprints, you should plan for at least one Release. On some development projects, each Sprint is a release that adds more functionality for internal testing and evaluation. Ultimately it is a judgement call by the Product Owner as to the number and timing of releases.
- Each release is “Potentially Shippable Product” which means that it can be used for evaluation, sale, or operations.
- The final Release of the project is normally what is sold or put into operation.
- Interim Releases are often distributed for evaluation either within the organization or to selected users/customers in order to obtain feedback about the functionality and performance that was the focus of the Release.
- When planning what will be in a Release, the Product Owner should consider a particular user or market niche and focus on the functionality required for that target.
- Based upon the target of the Release, the Product Owner should select the Stories that support the goals of that target. Use the MuSCoWa categorization to assist.
- Must have
- Should have
- Could have
- Want to have
- A project may have a combination of both development-focused Releases and market-focused Releases.
- Development-focuses Releases are targeted towards proving the effectiveness of a particular technology or technical approach.
- These Releases are used to reduce technical risk by proving a technical concept before extensive additional development work is performed.
- A project using this approach will often have an early Release (or Releases) that demonstrate the technical performance with basic system or product functionality.
- Later Releases will add additional features and performance, leading to a more complex product or system. However, the underlying technical risk of the new technology has mitigated with the first Release.
- It is very common that after the first Release, there is a significant re-write of Story Cards based upon the actual performance of the new technology.
- Market-focused Releases are targeted towards market niches or product/system upgrades.
- The Releases are used to package a set of customer/user features and functions into a Release that has commercial or operational value.
- This approach is often used with products or systems that have pre-planned upgrades, such as “quarterly updates” or seasonal products that are revised each season to accommodate market and consumer trends.
Hints and Tips
- Take the time to think through a Release strategy, then recategorize and reprioritize the Stories to support that strategy. Treat this like a “rolling wave” development where each wave gets bigger and better than the last.
- Don’t arbitrarily set a Release to happen after every “x” number of Sprints. Determine the Release strategy, then determine how many Sprints it will take to get to each Release.
- Releases are often major milestones in a project and great time to integrate back with all of your stakeholders about the progress that is being made.
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