Agile PM Process Grid–2.4 Release Plans

John Stenbeck in his book “PMI-ACP Exam Prep PLUS Desk Reference”, he creates an agile project management process grid with 87 processes divided into 5 process groups and 7 knowledge areas.

The block of processes I am covering now are those in the Planning process group and the “Value-Driven Delivery” knowledge area.   The first process is the creation of Release and Iteration Plans, and this post covers the first part of the process, creating Release Plans.

Release Plan

Just a little terminology first–the program level in traditional PM corresponds to the product roadmap, the project level in traditional PM corresponds to the release plan, and the iteration one step forward in any particular release plan.

So after the product roadmap has been established in process 1.5, and the central feature list created (see last post for details), you can then start on process 2.4 Release Plans.   A release plan generally corresponds to the point at which deliverables can be used or implemented by customers.

The key to effective release planning is estimating the team velocity, which is a measure of how many user stories on average the team can complete in one iteration.    So if the scope is well-defined (i.e., the number of user stories can be accurately estimated), and the team velocity is predictable, then calculating the number of iterations it will take to complete the project is pretty straightforward.

However, during the early part of the project, it may take a couple of iterations for the velocity to stabilize, but there should be a point at which the team velocity is a reliable metric.

Two Key Variables

Having a release plan broken down into iterations allows the team to optimize two key variables:

  1. Delivering customer value as rapidly and completely as possible.
  2. Getting the product to the customer, and thereby to the market, quickly.

The next post will talk about the next part of this process, planning iteration plans from the release plans.   The post after that will discuss the various types of iterations.


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