Posted by: Jeff Timmins | November 24, 2014

Tracking Release Runway

Tracking Release Runway

Ever since I was asked how I would do it years ago in an interview, I’ve been thinking of how to best display Release Runway schedule information. I define Release Runway as the Pre-Production environments used for the approval process of a Production Release. Scheduling the Release Runway is required when multiple changes are vying for the same environments.

If you are part of a one-Product Org (my situation in my first years of Release Management) then good news – your Runway is simple. No schedule conflicts for your single Runway that supports and your single Production instance.

If you are part of a multi-Products Org with multiple Agile teams producing changes for the same Production instance, then your Runway requires some type of management.

Looking for such a management system I came up with 3 options, 1 using a Spreadsheet and 2 using Kanban boards.

Option 1 – Google Docs Spreadsheet

GDocRunwayTracking

 

Since I use a spreadsheet for a number of tasks already, making a Google Doc spreadsheet to track Releases seemed logical. Spreadsheets are nice because the information can be customized but of course the usage of the Spreadsheet is not as fluid as a tailored made application. Of note, this is my 4th version of presenting the data in a spreadsheet, with each one different and improving on the previous version.

Thinking that a Kanban board might do the trick I tried 2 Kanban applications.

Option 2 – Kanban board from Trello

Trello Kanban Think Different

 

Trello has a great interface and is easy to use. The only problem I found (or maybe just not resolved yet) is that it doesn’t have a horizontal view and/or can only display one board at a time. Thinking that a horizontal view was my ticket to success I moved on to another board.

Option 3 – Kanban board from LeanKit

LeanKit Kanban View

 

Leankit is more challenging to use than Trello but added the horizontal view I was looking for. Surprisingly using a template was the challenging part and making my own board wasn’t that bad. After finalizing the layout that I wanted I noticed that I was missing the scheduling view – no visible dates when the Release was scheduled for System Test and Staging. I could due dates and edit them each the task moves to the right but that wouldn’t show me the a future schedule.

I also spent time considering Project options, thinking that a Gantt chart would solve my problems but I didn’t want to add a start and stop time to my tasks that were waiting so I bailed on it. Consider all my options I decided that the winner (for now, thinking of it as an MVP) would be the spreadsheet view. I’m now using this display on a weekly basis to give people an idea of what is currently on the “Runway” and what is in the Queue. I will soon post the view internally so they can self-serve. I’m looking forward to getting feedback and iterating it over time.

 

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Responses

  1. If I had a £ (or $) everytime somebody said to me ‘why do you use a spreadsheet when there are so many fancy tools’ then I would be quite wealthy! A spreadsheet is flexible and I can ‘paint’ whatever layout I have in my head. It’s quick, cheap, flexible and easy for anybody else to pick up. Sorted!

  2. […] previous post Tracking Release Runway (a.k.a. “Part 1″), after using the “spreadsheet view” for a few weeks I […]


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