Preparation for the Release Planning Event
Because the release planning event is the primary communication and coordination point for product strategy for the upcoming release period, product managers should come well prepared to do all of the following:
- Understand the status of the current (in process) release.
- Update the release backlog.
- Meet with other business owners and other product managers to coordinate initiatives and priorities.
- Meet with product owners to discuss the preliminary vision for the upcoming release.
The event is typically a minimum of a full day in length (more likely two days), and often follows the pattern illustrated in the following figures. Figure 2 shows the pattern for day 1 of the event; Figure 3 shows the pattern for day 2.
Figure 2 Day 1 of the enterprise release planning event.
Figure 3 Day 2 of the enterprise release planning event.
Day 1 focuses on delivery of the vision, which the product managers deliver via whatever medium suits them best, followed by initial planning by the teams.
In most cases, the vision doesn't "fit" in the release timeframe provided. After all, what self-respecting product manager would bring less vision than the teams could likely accomplish? Therefore, some scope management triage and out-of-the-box thinking is required on day 2.
In any case, day 2 of the event should bring a commitment to the objectives for the next release. Even then, the commitment has to be flexible; otherwise, you have fixed time/fixed scope/fixed qualityin other words, a short waterfall-constrained release. Many Agile teams communicate the feature release priorities on a flexible basis, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4 Prioritized release features.
In this manner, the product managers control the release content as well as the delivery priorities. Since teams become far more reliable on their release commitments as they master the new Agile paradigm, this approach gives the product managers and external stakeholders a more certain planning basis on which to make key decisions.