Before moving forward with this release plan template, your team and relevant stakeholders need to decide if your company is building products using the agile methodology. This agile release plan template is different from the traditional
of software development. In the traditional model, there are tight dependencies between phases and deliverables. With an agile release plan, there is more flexibility for iteration and it generally leads to faster development of features.
Release planning involves getting all relevant stakeholders in for a release planning meeting. You generally review the product roadmap, features in the product backlog, and decide when those features will be built (and associated with a "release") and delivered to the users of your product. A release plan template is generally more detailed and specific than a
since the release plan may have specific dates tied to releases, user stories, and feature launches. A release plan may also be organized by sprints if you and your team members are working on an agile project. It can be used in combination with our
that will help better organize your entire team and keep everyone involved focused on their individual goals and deliverables.
What is a release plan template?
A release plan template is a way for you, your team members, and stakeholders to visualize your product releases in a structured way. You will most likely use or integrate a release plan template with your team's sprint planning and
. Agile release planning is usually used by fast-moving product teams where the software development process is very flexible. With each release, new iterations on existing features can be planned and built. A release plan template helps project managers keep everything organized in one place.
How to choose the best release plan template for your team
When you think of a release plan template, you might think of a flexible tool like PowerPoint where you create tables and text boxes to help your team visualize the release plan. Same goes for building a release plan in Google Sheets. The flexibility of tools like PowerPoint and Google Sheets is the downside of these tools as well: it's cumbersome to make updates and have other stakeholders contribute to the template.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have highly-opinionated release plan software that is made specifically for product managers and software development teams. The downside with this type of software is that it's expensive and customizations may be difficult. Integrations with your existing tools and processes may require additional internal development resources.
On the spectrum of ultimate flexibility to dedicated software, this Coda release plan template sits in the middle along with other SaaS tools. It has just enough building blocks to allow you to build something that looks nice and custom for your team, and isn't as rigid and expensive as traditional release planning and agile project management software.
How to use this release plan template?
Starting with the
page, you should add in the details about the various releases of your product. Fill out details like the
. If there are additional properties you want to add to the releases, simply add additional columns to the
column will automatically populate based on what you select in the
table (we'll discuss this in the next step). Now that you've defined the list of releases, you can use these releases anywhere else in this template using lookup columns.
Step 2: Add features from your backlog
This is the core table of product features to build for your releases. This list of features can come from your product backlog, product roadmap,
, or wherever you keep the features stored from your agile project. You'll notice the
column is a dropdown that allows you to select any of the releases you defined in Step 1. When you hover over a release in this column, you'll see all the additional details about that release. You can add more columns to this table depending on the needs of your team, but this template includes some standard columns like
If we go back to the
table, we talked about how the
column populates automatically in Step 1. That
column contains the following formula:
Coda formulas are similar to Excel and Google Sheets, but a little easier to write because you reference the entire column and table names. With this formula, any time you select a release in the
table, that feature will automatically get added to the last column in the
Step 3: Visualize releases in different ways
This is the most important step for your internal stakeholders and end users who are outside of your software and product development teams. On the
page, you'll see three separate views of your release plan. The key thing to note here is that all these views are built off of the
table you filled out in Step 2.
Features by major release
This view shows the team name along the left-hand side and the major releases across the top. This is similar to a PivotTable in Microsoft Excel, but more dynamic because it will auto-update when you add new releases and product features in Steps 1 and 2. This view gives each team a high-level overview of all the features their team is responsible for in each release.
There are multiple ways to view your release calendar. This timeline view is also organized by team across the left-hand side, but it shows when the product feature is being worked on. You can collapse and expand each team name to see the detailed product features or just see a roll-up for each team.
The final view is also a timeline layout but it has the release on the left-hand side. This way, you can see a sequential view of each release and its features. If you decide to change the dates for a feature, you can drag and drop the bars in the timeline view and the dates will automatically adjust everywhere else in the template.
These views will hopefully make release management easier for your scrum team.
👉 Get started with: release plan template
This planning template contains the most basic columns you need for building a release management system. If your team needs additional functionality like adding KPIs, changing the statuses of features, or adding written project plans to the template, you can use Coda's building blocks to add these features (or contact our support team by clicking the question mark in the bottom-right corner).
How to use a release plan template
You release plan template should reflect the agile and release planning processes of your team. Typically a product manager or product owner would be responsible for managing the release plan template, but it could also be someone else on your scrum team. The release plan template should make it easy for any internal stakeholder to see the release schedule. This way, the marketing team knows how to incorporate the release into their product marketing plans, the customer support team knows when to expect incoming tickets about these features, etc.
How many sprints should be included in a release plan
There is no perfect answer for how many sprints should be included in a release plan since it depends on how many releases your team has every month, quarter, or year. Generally speaking, sprints are two weeks long. Some agile teams will have many releases and associate each release with a sprint. This means the product and software development teams are shipping features every two weeks. In this scenario, features may be built incrementally which allows for more iteration as you get product feedback from your users.
Release plan template FAQs
How do you write a release plan?
To write a release plan, the product owner should establish a release goal and release date. The release goal would be to market and deliver a certain set of product features from your product backlog to your users. The number of features and breadth of features is up to the product owner, but it should be enough features that the product marketing team can create a marketing campaign around. Once there is a release date and set of features to achieve the release goal, the software development team should have what they need to start building features.
What goes in a release plan?
At a high level, the release plan consists of a goal and date for the release. The release plan can also include further details about the product features being shipped to users, user stories, and other aspects of new product features your team is working on. Your scrum team has most likely gone through the product backlog (if running an agile project) and set up a product roadmap. The release plan is a more detailed timeline of when certain features get launched.
Is project planning and release planning the same?
They are very similar. When an agile project team is launching new products and features, they will establish a product roadmap which contains the strategy for how products will get launched to users and customers. The roadmap includes epics, themes, and the product vision.
The release plan takes the product roadmap and communicates the exact details of how the features will get launched and the dates those features will launch. This makes the release plan similar to a project plan since it involves breaking down the strategic vision into smaller chunks of features and their launch dates.
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