Release Planning in Agile from a Testing Perspective

Release planning in Agile is the establishment of a series of scheduled feature deliveries based on the expectations of the Product Owner and Stakeholders. The scrum team is included in release planning discussions to outline features and functionality in the product backlog by priority order. Technical debt reduction, environment and integration dependencies can be included in releases along with any new features. Testers within a scrum team are key to establishing guidelines, and advising on feature approval for releases.

Releases can be scheduled after each sprint or after the delivery of a series of sprints. The goal of release planning sessions is not to have a static plan for the life of the project. Release plans are iterative and will be revisited along with the product backlog. There are several approaches to guide features included in release planning such as Functionality Driven releases and Date Driven releases.

Establishing Guidelines for Release Planning

Each release should be defined based on a set of criteria that is agreed upon and reviewed during the life of an agile project for relevance. Two key criteria in establishing guidelines are:

  • Prioritisation of the feature testing and
  • Advising on feature approvals from testing 

Features with the highest complexities (generally meaning that it also has the highest level of risk) are generally prioritised for early validation during the testing process. Testers will work with the developers to ensure that these features go through an extensive set of quality assurance tests. Feature testing can also be prioritised based on the expected usage by customers. Features that will be utilised the most should be validated with a higher priority to ensure a positive user experience.

Testing approvals will be defined by the testers and approved by the Product Owner. An example would be categorising defects as show-stoppers, important and low impact defects. Testers will not allow features to move into production that are show-stoppers. This may mean delaying the release of features or moving the next iteration of development to a future sprint to correct either initial use cases or defects. Important feature defects will be reviewed on a one-by-one basis with the product owner to determine if a workaround is acceptable. Defects that do not impact the product in production can be moved to the product backlog for later consideration in sprint planning.

Release Types

Functionality Driven and Date Driven releases are two primary modelling techniques used to define the scope of a release.

Functionality Driven release cycles use modelling techniques that employ the input of the product owner and project stakeholders in determining which features need to be delivered to the end user in order to gain the greatest value. The scope of features and the time that it will take to deliver determines the release date. The testers will actively work on the backlog and release planning with the product owner to assign viability to feature sets based upon known complexities and dependencies in testing.

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  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team
  • Fully understand the role of the Agile Scrum Developer
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
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  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team

What topics are covered within this course

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  1. An Introduction to Agile Project Management (Tester)
  2. The 12 Agile Principles (Tester)
  3. Introduction to Scrum (Tester)
  4. Scrum Projects (Tester)
  5. Scrum Project Roles (Tester)
  6. Quality in Agile (Tester)
  7. Acceptance Criteria and the Prioritised Product Backlog (Tester)
  8. Quality Management in Scrum (Tester)
  9. Epics and Personas (Tester)
  10. Planning in Scrum (Tester)
  11. Scrum Boards (Tester)
  12. User Stories (Tester)
  13. The Daily Scrum (Tester)
  14. The Product Backlog (Tester)
  15. Review and Retrospective (Tester)
  16. Validating a Sprint (Tester)
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