Agile Release Plan

Agile methodology is one of the most prominent forms of technique that has changed the way to deliver software requirements in a rapid environment. Agile takes a lot of planning and structuration for giving a streamlined software development approach to meet the end-user expectation. Multinational software development companies are using agile methodology for high-level software application development. The agile release plan is the most important aspect of the entire agile adaptation technique. Product owners or the scrum master take the responsibility of effort calculation and set up a timeframe for product release. An agile release plan is a multi-step process where each process needs to be closely monitored, evaluated, and finalized before setting up the final release structure. This process is nothing but a product map that defines the overall life cycle of product development and sets the criteria before the product release. The agile release plan traverses through many strategic planning sessions and reaches the final stage to follow the path set for product release.

what is an agile release plan 

An agile release plan is a product map that addresses the product goals, vision, and expected result in a single frame. It handles the strategic planning that defines the overall process time and readiness of the product before the final release.

In other words, the Agile release plan is nothing but a set of guidelines created and managed by scrum master and product owners or project managers to dive deep into product requirements to assure that the acceptance criteria of the products are being fully satisfied before sending the product for the final release. It is a full proof product management technique that allows you to clear all the chunky issues in software development. Most of the products fail because of a lack of planning and poor execution technique.

The agile release plan ensures that the user stories have been 100 % satisfied and acceptance criteria have been matched before the product release. An agile release plan is a roadmap of overlooking the building product and finalizing the product for release.

How to create an agile release plan

Despite its Rapid Development structured workflow, agile sets a formal timeline for the team to follow for product development. Every small task gets and space in sprint planning. No resources get over headed due to workload. Agile teams get the flexibility to execute highly complex tasks in a very sophisticated work environment.

Agile release plan differs from organization to organization; there is no fixed rulebook to follow. Product owners can structure the release as per their feasibility. It follow-up many steps to build a full-proof release structure.

Steps for Agile release planning

  ·     Drawing proposal for the project release plan

  ·     Describing modules to be released in phase wise release stream.

  ·     Planning subsequent release iteration for parallel epics

  ·     Planning for each iteration working.

  ·     Development of features within the iterations

  ·     Planning tasks that can deliver the specific feature. 

These steps define the execution roadmap for the project release. Software development becomes a dynamic process when it’s based on agile; each requirement plays a major role in the overall procedure. Product owners, project managers define the product release plans based on the expected result.

A well to do plan ensures to keep the work on track and help teams from getting derail due to any circumstances, Focused planning also helps everyone involved in the project development to be on the same page without any miscommunication during the process. This is one of the major parameters that define the agile development stages at its best.

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Elements of the product release roadmap

Research, Planning, execution, and measurement of impacting issues make the entire agile development work outstandingly in any software development process. Every project deals with some natural issues that can be genuinely triggered during the process. Every product owner and project manager keeps the scrum planned aligned with the sprint so that the timestamp calculated for the product release will be more impactful.

Continuous monitoring, regular review meetings keeps up the plan work in the real environment. Let's look at some of the steps required to be effectively followed while making the release plan work for everyone.

  ·     Defining the project vision.

  ·     Setting up the realistic goals.

  ·     Aligning goals with continuous processes.

  ·     Finalizing scope of work to be done in a particular release.

  ·     Finalizing features to achieve the goal.

  ·     Choosing the right set of people to make the plan work.

  ·     Monitoring continues outcomes.

  ·     Reviewing daily for process and issues.

  ·     Streamlining project backlog items with proper work channels.

  ·     Hold a weekly meeting for scrum meetings.

  ·     Identifying troubles addressing team issues at ground level.

  ·     Closely monitoring every bit of progress.

  ·     Smart techniques for actual effort calculation for deciding deadlines.

  ·     Drawing a thin line between functional and cosmetic errors.

  ·     Reviewing the release checklist and tally with product demo sessions to re-verify the outcome.

  ·     Releasing the final product and fixing the invisible issue if anything is left behind.

Agile release plan steps

Let’s discuss standard steps defined by industry experts to ensure the outcomes of the product meets the expectation before release. No one can guarantee the existence of one method in this industry every organization follows different implementation techniques based on their feasibility.

Draw the idea into Project Epics

Before the project gets initiated the definition of scope is important. Scope in a brighter path in the dark universe which helps in showing the roadmap to the teams and creating boundaries between what to do and what not to do. The scope of the project gets converted into project epics, you can also be called the clustered set of information that holds the idea that needs to be implemented in terms of software features. Project Epics are the real-time requirement of clients' needs or expectations from the ongoing opportunity.

Define the user stories based on project requirements

User stories are nothing but a set of information on the various features that helps In achieving the result expected from the particular build item. User stories get defined by product owners, scrum master, or project managers based on one organization to another organization internal operational flow.

Rank the product backlog items based on priorities

Classify the requirements based on priority before building the backlog items. Backlog items will proceed through the agile work execution channel based on priority decided at this stage. Take inputs from stakeholders and define the workable items based on their needs. 

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Communicate the release plan meeting with all the product owners and projects heads

It’s mandatory to hold and meeting with product stakeholders and discuss the release plan once you are ready with one. The proper communication channel between the different levels of authority is important to exclude the confusion about the progress and results. It keeps everyone on the same page during product development and releases period.

Review the roadmap of the release plan and set realistic deadlines

Do not overestimate or underestimate your time frame for product releases. In most cases, people underestimate the time frame and put immense pressure on the team to finish the product resulting in which you will end up having the worst product. Always set a realistic estimated timeframe for release if needed, request your clients to give little flexibility to deliver quality products rather than just fulfilling a need.

Review the product architecture

Review the product architecture before giving the final signal. Your overall product quality depends on the homework done while building the architecture of the product. Do not hesitate to walkthrough with the product architecture even if you are 100 % sure about it.  

Hold the product iteration(Sprint) review meetings

Review the sprints in daily meetings and mark the progress of the ongoing implementation of ideas. Schedule standup meeting for 10 to 15 min and get a clear progress report from your execution teams. Address their issues and check all iterations closely. It's easy to deviate from the path when multiple talented minds are working together to keep them aligned with daily reviews.

Define the definition of Status “Done” in the project development cycle

Give your team and depth understanding of what does it means to be done for your product. Explain the acceptance criterias to them in all user stories before they proceed. Once all the criteria are machining precisely correct the teams can commit the product for release.

Finalize the product release calendar in case of shared products

Make your plan work through keeping the sensitivity towards any last-minute adjustments, calculating their impact before sharing the product release calendar. Everyone within this channel should have all the updates and ongoing events throughout the release process. Don’t hesitate to discuss any impactful changes in the product that can be a potential cause of stretching the deadlines. Keep your points clear about all the scenarios in this.  

Arrange an internal product demo before releasing it to the external channel.

Arrange an internal demo of the product before the final release to the external channel to have feedback over the outcome. Discuss the demonstration very clearly; take the last-minute improvement Is it not causing a bigger impact or derailing your entire product release. Communicate the impacts franking while accepting a change in the last minute.

Agile brings many challenges for organizations if their processes are not streamlined. Review and find the gaps between the operational flows, eliminate any potential process gap before implementing agile in your software development environment

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 Conclusion

Every organization follows its own rules and strategy to make the agile release plan work for them. There is no conventional history defined to follow certain rules while building the overall structure or this release plan. Think wisely, review your existing process, and then streamlines the roadmap that works fine for you. DO not follow predefined paths blindly rather refer to them for your better understanding and then define the criteria that are best suitable as per your organizational needs. Software development is a tricky and complex process, there are n number of issues that can create trouble during the process. Even the most successful MNCs also face a tough time dealing with unexpected trouble sometimes. Keep yourself ready to deal with potential challenges in the process. Revisit your previous experiences of handling issues, create flexible timeframes for release so that you never run out of time. Understand the difference between functional and cosmetic issues. There are many possibilities where products get released with the invisible issues that can be fixed later. Do not commit an unrealistic time frame to your clients that can create irreparable damage to your image. It’s always a good idea to ask for a few days’ extension in case of any technical trouble caused to process rather than releasing an unfinished product.

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Manikanth
Manikanth
Research Analyst
As a Senior Writer for HKR Trainings, Sai Manikanth has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Digital Marketing, Content Management, Project Management & Methodologies, Product Lifecycle Management Tools. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.