Organizing and Planning the Release Planning Event (AERP3)

Note: this post is part of a continuing series on Release Planning. The main posts in the series are organized and numbered sequentially (AERP1-n), and there are additional posts under the Release Planning category as well.

Participants

As we have described, (Release Planning: The Agile Enterprise Main Event (AERP2)) the release planning meeting is the seminal event in the enterprises agile process and representatives from all affected teams should attend. (For larger enterprises, there will be a sequence of such meetings, organized around cooperating components or subsystems.) Other stakeholders (executive sponsors, other departments, customers, etc.) who will be affected by the outcome should also attend. The meeting is typically a two-day face-to-face event with attendees including:

  • Agile Masters, team leads, Scrum Masters
  • Product Owners/Business Analysts
  • Product Managers and Customer Representatives (latter where feasible)
  • Tech lead and representative team members: developers, QA/Test, documentation, etc.
  • System and team architects (if applicable)
  • Release or project managers (where applicable)
  • Engineering Development Managers
  • VPs and executives responsible for product strategy, delivery and/or other affected operations

Preparation

A significant number of team members have the responsibility to prepare for the release planning meeting. Organized by role, these responsibilities fall roughly as follows:

Product Managers and Product Owners

  • Understand status of current release in process
  • Prepare draft release plan, dates and themes. Where multiple product managers are involved, meet ahead of time and solidify a single vision and a single set of priorities
  • Prepare a product backlog consisting of prioritized features
  • Prepare vision presentation for the meeting
  • Be open to the negotiations/scope management that will likely occur

Development Teams

  • Organize and update the current product backlog (items not in current release)
  • Decide on story estimating mechanism
  • Understand current team velocity (work capacity) and any upcoming schedule constraints (vacations, holidays etc)
  • Understand and prepare to discuss current architectural/infrastructure status and initiatives

Engineering Managers/Release Managers/Project Managers

  • Plan schedule (1-2 day event) and logistics (main event room with lots of wall/board space, plus break-out rooms)
  • Invite and assure appropriate attendance
  • Coordinate executive preparation and presentation
  • Determine program and facilitator/facilitation process
  • Assure coordination and readiness of product managers, architects etc prior to event

With this preparation under way, I’ll describe a program (sample agenda and sequence of activities) in a post later this week.

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