In an agile environment, there are several different types of planning at various intervals and levels of detail and one of those levels is release planning. Release planning is standard practice in an agile environment, where a team brainstorms about what needs to be included in a product or solution and what the delivery team will be focusing on for the next iteration. This article enumerates five common myths about release planning:
The Goal of Release Planning is to Create a Release Plan
While it seems logical, this is not exactly true. The goal of release planning is to have productive conversations that lead the team to come up with at least one solution that produces value to the users. This quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower pretty much sums it up, “In preparing for battle, I have found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
You Don’t Need the Entire Team in Release Planning
Although you can still put a decent plan even if the whole team is not involved in release planning, the value of this activity will be undermined as this process requires the whole team to be present so every member’s perspective is shared in the conversations.
Release planning needs to be a collaboration among business-focused people who understand the domain, the market, and the customer, product-focused people who can provide valuable technical solutions to business problems, and engineers who can determine what will work, how much work is needed, and how much the work will cost.
Release Planning is Just Estimation
Estimation is part of release planning, but there is a lot more happening in this activity. Estimation usually comes after brainstorming about the problem that the team is trying to solve and coming up with a bunch of user stories. Release planning also involves putting some constraints around the team’s capacity, and confirming if the team is capable of building the new product. As you can see, estimation is just a small piece of the puzzle that is all about exploring various options together and jointly deciding on the best plan.
The Release Plan Doesn’t Change
This is contrary to the Agile Manifesto which says that an agile team values responding to change over following a plan. When a plan changes during the execution of the release, this does not mean that the release planning activity was a failure. On the contrary, it is the foundation set by release planning that enables the team to accommodate change as they execute the release.
Release Planning Should Be Done at the Beginning of a Release
Attend a product management workshop like the ones offered by Product School and you will learn that release planning can be done at any time that the team feels the need to explore a problem together and collectively think of potential solutions. Whenever someone has a new feature idea, the cross functional team can gather to brainstorm stories, discuss possibilities, and incorporate these into the overall release plan.
So really, release planning is not about coming up with the perfect plan, but about gaining confidence that the team’s activities have equipped them with ideas and possibilities that will enable them to adjust as the release is being executed so the overall outcome is a success.
Michelle Gonzalez has been writing for SMEs across the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK for the last five years. She is a highly-experienced blogger and SEO copywriter, writing business blogs for various industries such as marketing, law, health and wellness, beauty, and education, particularly on product management training such as those offered by ProductSchool.com.