Release planning is about making the scope, date, and budget trade-offs for incremental deliveries. It is all about ‘high-level planning’ of multiple sprints (three to twelve iterations). Most of the times, it is sensible and important to carry out Initial Release Planning after product planning and before beginning the first Sprint related to the Release.
At this point, you can make an initial release plan showing a balance between how much can be built in the release against when the release will be available. You can generate and estimate a sufficient number of product backlog items to get an idea of when you can deliver a fixed set of features.
You can draw a release line through the product backlog to visualize the release. The above image shows a release line drawn through the product backlog. All the items below a line are not planned for a release, whereas all the items above a line are planned for the release. This release line can move up and down in the product backlog as you get in-depth knowledge of the product.
Now, you can easily tie up the product roadmap with the product backlog. This provides a detailed specification of the contents. Product roadmap describes the incremental way of building a product and delivering in time along with some crucial factors that help in each release. A product roadmap is very useful while developing any product having more than one release.
Release planning involves the complete Scrum team and the Stakeholders. At some point, the involvement of all these people is necessary to maintain a good balance between a value and quality.
Timing and Purpose of Release planning
Release Planning event happens frequently, during every sprint activity. Logically, initial release planning follows product-level planning. The aim of product planning is to plan what will be the final product.
The purpose of release planning is to find out the next logical step in achieving a product goal. Many organizations implementing Scrum create an introductory release plan through initial release planning. The initial release planning lasts a day or 2-days. This timing may vary based on the size of the release and the team members’ familiarity with the concepts that are being created.
Release planning refers to as longer-term planning. It enables to answer the following questions like:
Release Planning includes a balance between the customer value and complete product’s quality against the constraints like scope, budget and time.
Every organization implementing Agile must decide its own cadence during a release of the product. Some organizations decides to release every sprint, while others combine multiple sprints into one release and others release just after the completion of each feature, this practice is called continuous deployment or continuous delivery. Let’s understand the different release cadences, that are made up of multiple sprints, occur every sprint, and occurs multiple times each sprint.
Let us see the process of Release Planning below.
The inputs to release planning include:
In Release Planning, one activity includes a confirmation of the constraints like scope, date, and budget during a release and auditing these constraints to check whether any changes are needed, given a passage of time and what we presently think about the product and its release. Another activity in release planning is product backlog grooming (product backlog refinement). This includes creating, estimating and prioritizing the product backlog items.
These activities can happen at various points in time, as follows:
Each release must have a very much characterised set of Minimum Releasable features (MRFs).
The outcome of the Release Planning is ‘release plan’. The Release plan communicates a level of accuracy, when we will finish the product, what features we will get at the end, and how much will be the cost. Also, the release plan communicates the desired MRFs for a release.