Posted by: Jeff Timmins | October 29, 2010

How Release Management could fit within the Agile Scrum process

After being challenged to think about directly applying Agile Scrum to Release Management (and not having much to copy from the Internet!) I decided to try it again.  I say “again” because I have tried it before.

During my first attempt at Scrum I knew a bit about Agile but wasn’t functional + I was thrown into a general “Release” Scrum that covered multiple responsibilities + my time was split up 25% Release Manager, 25% Performance Lab Systems guy and 50% QA Environment responsible guy so I would continually think “well, which one of me are they interested in?”  Let me tell you, those were some fun times!  Okay, not really.

Anyway, since then I’ve read “Agile Project Management with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber and have been part of a healthy Scrum team so I am better prepared to fit an RM processed into a Agile Scrum system.  Here are my thoughts on adapting Release Management for Agile Scrum:

  • Product Owner – The Product Manager or whomever is deciding what features are included in which Release and when.
  • Product Backlog – Simply getting the code completed in the last Sprint into Production per the already agreed upon schedule.  Sounds simple right?  Oh but the real work is in the details!
  • User Stories – Created from the Product Backlog by the Product Manager and the Release Manager.  Stories would encompass all internal and external customers that will either add value and/or be impacted by the Release.
  • Story estimates – completed by the Release Team.
  • Release Team – the Release Manager, QA Environment deployment person, Beta Rep, Implementation Rep and Operations Rep.
  • Stand-ups – comprised of the Release Team, run 3 times per week with the Release Manager acting as the Scrum Master.
  • Incorporation of other internal customers – With a weekly Release Status meetings that include the Release Team, Scrum Master, Development management, Marketing Rep, Support Rep and Customer Success Rep.
  • Sprints for the Release Team – varies, for this example will use 2 (each 2 weeks) based on my past experience of Development using 2 – 2 week Sprints to create a Releasable update.
  • RM Sprints alignment with Development Sprints – it would be off-set by 1 Sprint and would look like this:

  • Example of User Stories – of course this varies too but below is an example of what it would look like

User Stories for Sprint 1

  1. As the Release Manager, I need to confirm that the Operations Team understands the requirements of any new technology requirements related to the upcoming Release.
  2. As the Release Manager, I need to confirm that the update can be reproduced exactly how it was produced for the QA team in their QA Lab environment (to this point in the code).
  3. As the Release Manager (in conjunction with User Story #2), I need to confirm that the system works the same outside of the QA Lab environment as it does inside the QA environment (to this point in the code).
  4. As the Release Manager, I need to confirm that the QA Test Plan aligns with needs of the upcoming Release.
  5. As the Release Manager, I need to confirm that the known issues/defects introduced by the upcoming Release have been started and are 1/3 complete (so documentation will be able to be completed by the end of the next Sprint).
  6. As the Release Manager, I need to create the overall schedule so that the Release confirms with the originally planned schedule for the upcoming Release.
  7. As the Marketing representative for Updates, I need to confirm that the features we are planning to highlight in Marketing material (provided by Product weeks earlier) are on schedule for the upcoming Release.
  8. As the Release Manager, I need to confirm that the schedule for the Beta/Early Access Program is on target and preparations for the Program are on target to the originally planned schedule.
  9. As the Release Manager, I need to confirm that the training schedule for Support personnel is on target for the upcoming Release.
  10. As the Release Manager, I need to communicate the status of the Release Status to the internal stakeholders.

User Stories for Sprint 2

  1. As the Implementation Manager, I need to confirm that my team can reproduce the update exactly how it was produced for the QA team in their QA Lab environment.
  2. As the Release Manager (in conjunction with User Story #1), I need to confirm that the system works the same outside of the QA Lab environment as it does inside the QA environment.
  3. As the Implementation Manager, I need to be informed of the known issues/defects introduced by the upcoming Release and related to the update in order to prepare for update related issues.
  4. As the Product Owner, I need to know that the schedule for new features in the upcoming Release conforms to the originally planned schedule.
  5. As the Customer Success Manager, I need to know that the schedule for the Beta/Early Access Program conforms to the originally planned schedule and that features promised to customers are available in the available code.
  6. As the Marketing representative for Updates, I need to confirm that the features we are planning to highlight in Marketing material (provided by Product weeks earlier) will actually be available in the upcoming Release.
  7. As the Support Manager, I need training for my Support personnel on the new features and options that will be introduced in the upcoming Release so they are prepared for post-Release Support calls.
  8. As the Support Manager, I need to be informed of known issues/defects introduced by the upcoming Release in the form of internal KB articles to prepare the Support staff for post-Release Support calls.
  9. As the Operations Manager, I need to be informed of known issues/defects introduced by the upcoming Release in the form of internal KB articles to prepare the Operations staff for care and feeding of the system.
  10. As the Release Manager, I need to communicate the status of the Release Status to the internal stakeholders.

Other references found on RM and Agile but not used for various reasons:

 

Dev Team

Sprint 1

Sprint 2

RM Team

Sprint 1

Sprint 2

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Responses

  1. Hi Jeff,
    This article has been very helpful as I am in the process of fitting in Agile with ITIL. If I hit any roadblocks, can I ask you for your help and counsel?

    • Sorry for the long-delayed reply. I have been ignoring my blog in the past – for no good reasons! – but will be trying to be active going forward. And yes, I would be happy to provide any help I can if given the chance.


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