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The Two Key Activities in Planning an Agile Release

In an agile management framework, you periodically release groups of usable product features to production. Planning for these releases requires you to complete two key activities: revising the product backlog and scheduling the release plan.

A release does not need to include all the functions outlined in the Roadmap to Value, but it should include at least the minimal marketable features, the smallest group of product features that you can effectively deploy and promote in the marketplace. When planning a release, you establish the next set of minimal marketable features and identify an imminent product launch date. The product owner is responsible for creating the release goal and establishing the release date. However, the development team, with the scrum master’s facilitation, contributes to the process.

Completing the product backlog as part of an agile release plan

The scrum team refers to the product backlog as the main source for project requirements. If a requirement exists, it’s in the product backlog. The requirements on your product roadmap are the first version of your product backlog.

At a minimum, when creating your product backlog, be sure to

  • Include a description of your requirement.

  • Order the user stories based on priority.

  • Add the effort estimate.

A sample product backlog looks like:

image0.jpg

Keep your product backlog format simple and barely sufficient to save time on updating it throughout the project. Keep it up to date so that you always have accurate cost and schedule estimates.

Don’t create a new, separate backlog during release planning. Prioritizing the existing product backlog based on the release goal is sufficient and enables the product owner to have the latest information doing sprint planning.

Creating an agile release plan

The release plan contains a release schedule for a specific set of features. The product owner creates a release plan at the start of each release, using these steps:

  1. Establish the release goal.

    The product owner and development team collaborate to create a release goal based on business priorities, the development team's development speed, and the development team's capabilities.

  2. Review the product backlog and the product roadmap to determine the highest-priority user stories that support your release goal.

    These user stories make up your first release.

  3. 3.Determine a date for the release.

    The release date is typically at least three sprints out, but the actual date depends on your specific project. Some scrum teams determine release dates based on completion of functionality; others may have hard dates.

  4. 4.If you haven't done so already, refine the user stories in your release goal.

    Consult the development team when updating estimates for your revised user stories.

  5. 5.Get the development team’s buy-in and commitment for the first release.

    Be sure you have consensus on both the release date and the release goal.

The planned releases now go from a tentative plan to a more concrete goal; A typical release plan may look like this:

image1.jpg
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