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If the development team's velocity is not known, then they must provide an estimate for it, and the release plan must be understood to be less precise for the first few iterations, until a reliable velocity number can be derived. The initial release plan rarely satisfies all parties - either not enough functionality will be delivered or too much time seems to be necessary to deliver the desired functionality.

But in the agile world, the team looks these hard truths in the face, and develops a software development plan around them. No one believes in scope miracles that will satisfy everyone.

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Instead of practicing collective denial, the team uses real metrics and negotiation to make hard choices as close to the start of the project as possible. Agile thought leaders agree that while it is possible to adjust scope, deadline, resources, and quality for a given project, the only variables that respond well to adjustment are deadline and scope.

Extensive research has shown that larger teams tend to deliver lower quality systems more slowly, while smaller teams tend to deliver higher quality systems faster. It may indeed be necessary to add programmers to a team, but that is likely to slow the team down for at least awhile, not speed it up. Once we accept these findings, then we accept that in our release planning, we must adjust either the scope or the deadline to produce a release plan that is agreed to be workable by sponsors, customers, developers, managers, and other stakeholders. The fact that the team makes these hard choices up front reduces overall risk for the project.

It increases the chances that the team will produce a feature set that returns stakeholder investment more than adequately by the deadline.


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The initial release plan is understood to be rough. It must be detailed enough only to get us started, by predicting that the project will deliver enough return on investment to more than pay for it.

How to Create an Agile Release Plan

If the initial release plan predicts ROI that is too low to justify the project, then we can cancel the project before we waste very much money. In agile projects we plan continuously, and we correct our course as we go. One of the primary mechanisms for course correction is allowing the release plan to evolve in response to all kinds of feedback. It will take at least a couple of iterations for team velocity to settle down.

Iterations will sometimes deliver less functionality than was planned for, and sometimes more. Features, architectural choices, design choices, or framework or technology choices might prove to be too risky or simply unworkable. The user interface might require revision. Staff might be lost or added.

How To Do Agile Release Planning

Feature priorities might change. All of these factors will help us revise and refine the release plan continuously. When each new iteration plan is published, so should a revised release plan that reflects the new reality. Many agile teams plan to deliver only a small amount of functionality in the first iteration often called "Iteration 0" , in order to explicitly allow for working out initial technical and logistical issues, and perhaps also stressing the architecture from end to end.

This can be critical for teams that have little or no agile experience. For a team without a good velocity metric, this might mean that only at the end of the second or third iteration has the velocity become stable and reliable. Some teams also schedule up to two iterations at project close for stabilization, system-wide integration and testing, bug fixing, and user documentation completion. In an ideal agile project this would not be required, but in the real world it depends on the specific agile practices the team follows, the organizational structure, the overall complexity of the system, the non-code deliverables expected of the team, the complexity of system deployment, and similar factors.

Some teams can get by without agile planning at the release level.

For example, an ASP may simply deliver software into production every iteration i. If, on the other hand, some level of visibility is required by management at the software release management level i. Releases typically range between 2 and 12 months. For longer releases, it may make sense to break it down into several sub-releases. The number of iterations within a release is typically driven by the schedule.

If a release is 6 months long, and iterations are 2 weeks, then 13 iterations should be scheduled for the release. For smaller teams, it may make sense for the entire cross-functional team to participate for both input and accountability purposes. For larger teams and organizations, a subset of the team may be selected or elected to represent the team.

Elements of a product release map

Generally, quite a bit of work has been done prior to a release planning meeting in terms of project approval, budgeting, vision, team identification, etc. With respect to functionality, the customer has likely spent time working with development to identify initial features, as well as potentially in breaking them down and providing initial, high-level estimates. As more information is uncovered, functionality is delivered, more about the system is understood, business needs evolve, and priorities change, the overall make-up of the release will almost definitely change.

Although anticipated, the evolution of software release management over time will need to be communicated to all appropriate stakeholders.

Agile teams place enormous value on the extensibility of their code: the extent to which they can easily ma What is a Release Plan? Preliminary Release Planning The goal of initial release planning is to estimate roughly which features will be delivered by the release deadline presuming the deadline is fixed , or to choose a rough delivery date for a given set of features if scope is fixed. Preliminary Release Plan The initial release plan rarely satisfies all parties - either not enough functionality will be delivered or too much time seems to be necessary to deliver the desired functionality.

How to Create an Agile Release Plan | Lucidchart Blog

Though Release Management is an important component of the Service Transition process, a lot of companies lack the required assets or process steps for achieving successful delivery of components or services. Once the development team at XYZ writes the code for the new web page, it may need to be tested by multiple test teams and across different environments, before it is finally deployed in Production, for usage by end users or customers.

A lot of companies lack this process of efficiently deploying the code from development into test environments or production environments, resulting in Production bugs or failures. So the need arises for Release Management best practices. These guidelines are officially owned and published by the British Cabinet Office. For further instruction, please refer to the official ITIL website. While best practice guidelines are instrumental to a successful process upgrade, these guidelines will have to be tailored by organizations, based on their custom requirements.

Please also note that it is not required to implement each and every step suggested in the best practice. Figure 1 below gives an overview of the various stages of SDLC, where release management processes need to be implemented.