How do I create an Agile Project Release Plan?

I need to make a project release plan - i.e. so that I can show where certain deliverables are launching on a timeline.

Answer

Use T-Shirt Size Estimation and User Story Mapping to achieve an Agile Release Plan, and then present the plan in a Roadmap Format. Make sure that you emphasise to all stakeholders that the plan relies on estimates, and that reality may differ.

By . Published: 2016/08/22 1:11:25 PM, Last Updated: 2019/06/22 3:30:10 PM

More detail

Eight Steps to create your Agile Release Plan:

  1. Get the right people together for a workshop: Assemble key members of your team for an afternoon workshop (3 hrs) – include at least the lead craftsperson delivering the work (developer / engineer / bricklayer / joiner), project manager & project sponsor. Ideally include a few of the hands-on individuals who will be delivering the work.
  2. List your previous features delivered: If you have already developed anything with the team in question, write each feature that you have developed on a Post-it.
  3. Arrange them into “T-shirt size” groups: Arrange the features in 3 or 4 groups of similar-sized features. Use “Small, Medium & Large” as the group names, and if you really feel you need another group, use “Extra Large” too.
  4. Write out your future features: Write out the features that you want to include in your Release Plan onto Post-its. Keep the titles short, and add 1 sentence for context if you feel you need it.
  5. Group the future features by T-shirt sizes: Using your existing feature groups as a guide for feature sizes, give your future features equivalent sizes: small / medium / large / extra-large.
  6. Work out roughly what you can deliver “Per Iteration”: Agree with the team an estimate of what can be reasonably expected within an “Iteration”. Iterations in software development are usually 2-4 weeks. So, agree e.g. “We can deliver 1 large, 2 mediums and 4 smalls per iteration”.
  7. Use Storymapping to arrange the features into useful “Releases”: You should arrange the features into “Releases” that give you a meaningful new vertical slice of functionality for your product.
  8. Extrapolate your Releases onto a timeline: Now that you have sizes for your releases, and an expected quantity per iteration, you can arrange the releases over iterations, onto a timeline using your iteration bandwidth.
  9. Add the “Delivery Dates” for Releases: Outline, in terms of number of sprints, how much time each release will take. EMPHASISE THAT THIS IS BASED ON ESTIMATES.

WARNING: Ensure your estimates are appropriately signposted!

In any Agile project, all estimates must come with caveats. Add caution notes to your stakeholders communications like “Based on what we know, we predict that…”, or “Using rapid estimation, we predict that…”. Be careful to avoid committing to “hard feature lists” and “hard deadlines”. If you are worried about this happening, then use 3-point estimation to manage expectations.

“Three Point Estimation” – if you are worried about “being committed”

A “Three-point estimate” is a good way to emphasise that you are working on estimates, and NOT on exact science. It helps to emphasise uncertainty and risk.

Here are the three points:-

  1. At Best: The first “Point” is “The soonest we expect to deliver this feature. This is the minimal feasible time required for delivering what we know of the feature.”
  2. Most Likely: “GIVEN WHAT WE KNOW, plus the level of risk, and our dependencies, this is when WE BELIEVE that the feature will be delivered”
  3. At Worst: “GIVEN WHAT WE KNOW about the feature, the assumptions, the level of risk, and the dependencies, this is longest we believe it will take us.”

Short on time?

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FAQ Created: 2016/08/22 1:11:25 PM, Last Updated: 2019/06/22 3:30:10 PM By .