This time we had agreed the Release Planning Day, our common company event, would only serve as a deadline for having the Release Plans done. So all the actual planning was done before hand. One tool that we extensively used was Microsoft Yammer. It has proven to be handy for sharing something get insights from different stakeholder around the globe. In addition there was a lot of face to face planning between the Product Managers, Product Owners and Development teams.
I had split the day's agenda into the following parts:
- Agenda and purpose of the day delivered by Release Train Engineer
- Where We Are Heading, market insight and Portfolio funnel status by Chief Portfolio Officer
- Product Roadmaps by Product managers
- Lunch and team break
- Each teams' finalized Release Plan by Product Owners
- Launch Plan for each product/solution by Product Managers
Previously our Release Process ended when the PSI was done. Development and releasing were decoupled. Although this is often beneficial, it had proven to generate a lot of confusion. Sometimes we had a PSI, but no plan on what to do with it. We had concentrated too much on the technical side and forgotten what our whole system was supposed to do: provide our customers with new increments of working software and added value.
- Who are the target audience for this Release?
- How will we communicate about this Release to our target audience?
- How will we deliver the Release to our customers?
Also the Launch Plans seemed to reveal interesting new things about the organization. What we talk about as Release is usually just release of the software component. Creating the PSI doesn't take into account how it will be delivered, configured, trained to new users or marketed. All these are really relevant topics and especially relevant for the customers.
I think generally the Release Planning Day was successful. It was shorter, more focused and took the customer view better into account. In short I would claim it was the best release planning we have ever done. But just as a note for if you plan to try this in your organization: this wasn't our first time. Without the shared history and previous steps on our path I don't think it would have gone like this. So don't try this at home. (Or who am I to decide. Maybe this is the killer recipe that works as a silver bullet. I've tried it once and it worked for me. :) )