Disciplined Agile

Plan the Release

This Inception process goal describes how we will approach creating an initial plan for our team. Although the details will emerge throughout Construction, we still should think about how we’re going to work together and the general timing of that work. Where the focus of this process goal is on initial planning, the plan will be evolved via the Produce a Potentially Consumable Solution process goal. 

To be effective, we need to consider several important questions:

  • Who will be involved in planning?
  • What is the scope of our planning effort?
  • What is our overall strategy driving this plan?
  • How detailed should our plan be?
  • What cadences will the team adopt?
  • What approach to estimating will we take?
  • How will we document the plan? 
Copyright Project Management Institute All Rights Reserved Plan the Release v5.4 Source of Plan Self-organizing team Team leadership Manager facilitated Manager-driven Scope of Plan Product/solution Release Scheduling Strategy Continuous delivery Cost driven Date driven Timeboxed Scope driven Level of Detail of the Plan Rolling wave High level Detailed None Choose Schedule Cadences Internal releases Iteration length Phase duration Production releases Estimating Strategy Educated guess by an experienced individual(s) Educated guess by team Artificial intelligence (AI) generated Similar-sized items Relative mass (grid) valuation Affinity estimation Planning poker None Function points Cost set by stakeholders Choose Estimation Unit Relative points T-shirt sizes Normalized points Hours Capture Plan Burndown chart Burnup chart Business canvas Cost forecast Desired outcome(s) Gantt chart (detailed) Gantt chart (high level) Iteration schedule Milestone schedule PERT/GERT chart Ranged burndown chart Ranged burnup chart Staffing plan Table Value forecast

Figure 1. The Plan the Release process goal diagram (click to enlarge)

You can use the DA Browser to learn more about the options in the goal diagram of Figure 1. 

Why This is Important?

There are several reasons why this is important:

  • Our stakeholders will require fundamental management questions to be answered. In particular, the majority of agile teams are ask how long a release will take and how much it will cost.
  • We can help our stakeholders to evolve their agile mindset. Initial release planning often proves to be a useful time to help our stakeholders move away from a cost/budget mindset toward a value-delivered mindset, and similarly away from a schedule/date mindset toward a delivered-outcomes mindset. This mindset shift, which can be difficult at first, supports a partnership relationship between our team and our stakeholders, which will enable us to streamline how we work together. 
  • We want to have a viable strategy. Your primary goal should be to think things through before you do them, not to produce documentation (a plan) describing what you think you’re going to do.
  • We need to set reasonable expectations. Our stakeholders, including other delivery teams, will make important decisions based on our plan. Similarly, during Inception the team decides how it will work together and the plan will reflect several key decisions such as choice of lifecycle, governance strategy, and risk mitigation efforts.

Key Points

  • Our team should create a release plan that we believe we can reasonably be expected to work to.
  • We should strive for continuous, rolling wave plans maintained at a high level.
  • We will need to make decisions regarding our need for phases (if any), releases, iterations (if any), and their cadences.
  • There are many estimating strategies, including #NoEstimates that we should consider.
  • There are many options for capturing and managing our plans.