Release Planning For Product Owners

Agile projects depend on the development of a refined feature backlog to support the prioritization of features that have the greatest value to stakeholders and end users. Agile principles centre on delivering a minimally viable product (MVP) that aligns with the business vision of a product. The Product Owner is the leader in the development of a refined backlog, aligning the feature delivery to the stakeholder and focusing the team on results.

Release planning serves as a road-map for delivery and monitoring progress. Release planning is used to line up the delivery of features for the next three to twelve sprints. Inputs to the release planning process include:

 Feature backlog
 Dependencies and Risks
 Planning Metrics and
 Estimates of Scrum team velocity.

Releases can be planned by feature prioritization, driven by dates or a combination including milestones. The product owner has responsibility for establishing the goals of a release and the delivery date. It is important to remember that the team is focused on delivering the minimally viable product. The features included are only those that are needed to successfully deliver a usable product to the market.

The output of release planning will be a prioritized backlog with initial slotting of features into sprints. While each sprint must produce features that can be released to the market, releases may be aligned by the inclusion of multiple sprints.

Feature Driven Release Planning

The foundation of a product is identifying the right features to deliver to the market and the prioritization. The product owner is responsible for creating the backlog with input from key stakeholders and the scrum team. Key data points in the product backlog include:

 A description of the feature
 An estimate of value to be used in determining priority and
 An estimate of time to deliver the high-level story associated with the feature

Feature driven release planning relies on the scope and prioritization of product deliverables. This requires a focus on feature-driven development (FDD). FDD focuses on client-centric deliverables. Releases will be scoped to deliver features that add value to the client and market. Features are fixed in the release and scope should not be expanded. Agile scrum allows for changes and the inspect and adapt model so changes to user stories or removal of features may be identified during the scrum development process. The product owner leads the effort in defining the feature-driven release by following these steps:

1) Identify the prioritized list of features to be included in a release. It is important to assess value with input from key stakeholders.
2) Working with the scrum team, estimate the story points for each user story assigned to a feature.
3) Host additional discussions with the scrum team to identify any risks or dependencies to reduce technical debt. This may impact the prioritization and inclusion of features in a release.
4) Using past or estimated scrum team velocity, determine the number of user stories that can be assigned to each sprint.
5) Determine the number of sprints required to deliver all of the features identified for a release.
6) Establish the release date based on the number of sprints required.
7) Keep in mind that additional sprints may be required for regression testing and software deployment activities.

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Our Book Recommendations

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Master of Agile – Scrum Product Owner With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

Introductory Offer: Free Course

What is this course?

This ‘Master of Agile – Scrum Product Owner With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)’ provides an in-depth understanding of the Scrum Product Owner roles and responsibilities

You will explore the Agile Scrum project life-cycle, including how an Agile User Story is created, to how we know when it is ‘done’

This course is aimed at those with or without prior knowledge and experience of the Agile values and principles

During this course you will learn the tools needed to succeed as a Scrum Product Owner

What will you learn?

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the Scrum Product Owner roles and responsibilities, and you will be able to

  • Fully understand the role of the Scrum Product Owner
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team

What topics are covered within this course?

You will cover the following topics during this course:

  1. An Introduction to Agile Project Management (Product Owner)
  2. The 12 Agile Principles (Product Owner)
  3. The Declaration of Interdependence (Product Owner)
  4. Introduction to Scrum (Product Owner)
  5. Scrum Project Roles (Product Owner)
  6. The Agile Project Life-cycle (Product Owner)
  7. Acceptance Criteria and the Prioritised Product Backlog (Product Owner)
  8. Epics and Personas (Product Owner)
  9. Sprint Planning (Product Owner)
  10. User Stories (Product Owner)
  11. The Daily Scrum (Product Owner)
  12. The Product Backlog (Product Owner)
  13. Scrum Charts (Product Owner)
  14. Review and Retrospective (Product Owner)
  15. Validating a Sprint (Product Owner)
  16. Releasing the Product (Product Owner)
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