Release management will help plan, organize, and manage every phase of the project. In a broader perspective, release is the largest entity in a project that will help the team members to deliver the outcomes on time. Similar to delivering a workable version in a sprint, release will also help you deliver the outcome, but unlike sprints, release handles a bigger part of your project. For example, launching a product version, creating a new module etc.
For example, if your team is coming up with a new version of your product, it can be added as a release. A version is a biggest deliverable that contains new features, enhancements, integrations, new user interface etc. The team cannot load all the requirements in a single sprint. It requires: time, team coordination, enhancing existing features, code changes etc. So, what does the team do to run everything in a single entity? That's where Release Management comes into play. It is the biggest entity that can handle all the requirements of the team in a single process.
Let's meet Stephen , the founder and product manager of Eruka Software Solutions. He handles a team of 500 members who follow the agile methodology in delivering outcomes. The company develops and handles software products for three different client sectors: Banking, Retail Store, and Construction. The three products they handle are: ER-Australia, ER-Shopify, ER-Construction.
Challenge: Stephen and his team have two client requests, one from the banking sector and the other from the retail store. The requests are:
ER-Shopify (Website needs a new field for Kids clothing in the Category section and a new interactive version of the website)
ER-Australia (Build mobile app and add insurance module to the website)
Now, Stephen has to coordinate and plan the releases for both the product along with this team members. How can he get this done? Before even creating a release, there are a few things to look upon.
Time frame - Every release should have a predefined time frame and should not exceed the destined date in order not to derail your customer satisfaction.
Budget - Estimate the budget required to complete the release. In the above case, Stephen can estimate the budget based on the hours logged by the team members.
Impact on existing customers - The release update should not affect the existing customers. Stephen should have a client meet to check whether the planned product changes will affect the existing customers.
Resource allocation - Plan your release based on your resource availability. Once a release kick-starts, there shouldn't be any delay in the delivery.
Analysis of Sprints and Backlog : Take a look at your project backlogs and existing sprints (in plan and the on going sprints). If the work items are related to the release that you're planning, then re-analyze the work items.
If there are sprints relevant to the planned release, you can add them to your release.
Once these five points are analyzed, Stephen can start creating the release plan and add the required sprints and work items in it.
Release plan for ER-Shopify
The requirement of the client is to create a new kids section under category and version (2.1) with an interactive UI. The first requirement requires a shorter duration and the second one involves time and effort. Stephen can create two releases:
Release 1: Category Enhancement
The team has a few issues in the category module which can be associated with this release. They can also add new work items to the release. This release is planned for 3 months and as the release progresses it is moved from one stage to the other.
A stage is the status of your release.
Similar to the above release, the team can create another release called 'Version 2.1' and add or associated relevant work items from the backlog or sprints. Since, this is a big release, the team can schedule it for 6 months. Stephen can use the above release
Benefits of implementing release
Every phase of your project is well planed and defined
Clearly defined deliverables and on-time delivery to the end user
Reduces defects and helps in optimizing the plan of future product releases
Enhances interaction between the team members and clients because release involves a collective effort
The quality of the product increases when releases become frequent.
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