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Conducting a Release Planning

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During Release Planning, the Scrum Master facilitates as the Product Owner, Delivery Team (Core Agile Team, Network, Security, Operations, etc.), and Stakeholders collaborate and commit to a plan for delivering a product increment by a given deadline. The Product Owner presents the product vision, business objectives, and prioritized backlog while the Delivery Team provides valuable insights into the technical feasibility, known velocity, and dependencies.

Release Planning presents the opportunity for the Delivery Team, Product Owner, and Stakeholders to reach a common goal about what needs to be achieved (scope) and when (date), based on the available resources (budget). It creates a platform for cross-functional collaboration; thus enabling participants to identify cross-team dependencies that inform decision-making in line with capacity and available skillsets regarding the sequence of work.

Preparing for Release Planning

When preparing for Release Planning, consider the logistics of the entire Delivery Team; ensure the room size and / or breakout rooms can accommodate the complete number of participants as well as schedule online video conferencing for distributed team members. More specifically with distributed team members, be considerate when coordinating across time zones and working hours. Employ supplemental forms of communication (e.g. Slack) and ensure team members have access to any tools, applications, or files that will allow them to fully participate and have a voice in the session.

Further, create an agenda in advance to help ensure team members are prepared for the conversation and it can remain on the intended release(s). Leadership and (key) Stakeholders should plan to be present and engaged, focusing on minimizing dependencies that might impact the Team’s progress. For smaller teams, the complete cross-functional Delivery Team should attend for both input and accountability purposes. However, for larger teams, a subset of team members may be elected to represent the Team for release planning.

As the Delivery Team plans the release(s), they should use the established “Definition of Ready (DoR)” and baseline for sizing estimates of Backlog items (this is typically defined by the Agile Team prior to the start of development). This is the gauge by which user stories can be planned for assignment to various sprints and to limit sizes of the various release deadlines, which usually range between (2 - 12) months.

Good Reads

These are good references for conducting a Release Planning: