Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Is Forecasting Releases Really Necessary?

A release is a set of customer visible and operational features that together provide a completely new or improved product capability. It’s something that’s meaningful from the user’s perspective, often comprised of user stories and service delivery related activities.

Digging deeper into this, a release holds much value to users, customers and internal teams. A release is not simply releasing new feature or functionality. Instead, a release is a date when the company is committing to delivering a new customer experience, and to supporting every customer interaction point associated with it. A release not only represents major launch milestones or the product lifecycle, but also defines themes that tell a story to a customer.

Releases are often either date-driven or scope-driven. The key drivers for a date-driven release are usually marketing factors and the key drivers for a scope-driven release are a specific set of valuable features from a user’s perspective.

If the delivery date is held constant, the scope becomes a variable. This is different from a fixed-scope release that must have a specific set of features and the date on which the features are delivered is flexible.

In Agile, release planning is usually done through an estimation process where scope is explicitly defined as a mutable variable (presuming the deadline is fixed) or by choosing a rough forecast date for a given set of features (if the scope is fixed). The Product Owner use this information to decide whether the project or release will produce enough return on investment (ROI) and therefore whether or not it makes sense to proceed with the project or release.

Also key to the Agile framework are short, iterative sprints, which may lead you to feel that there is no need to plan actual releases or forecast dates. However, the forecast serves as a guideline to allow us to have a conversation around what we must do next and how fast we think we can do it.

Why Release Forecasting Matters

Release forecasting helps with launch and cross-team coordination, and also in figuring out what can go in or be removed from the launch. Launch coordination involves other product owners, marketing, sales enablement, and sometimes, external agencies too.

  • For product owners, it’s crucial to know what’s in scope and what’s not. They can then use that information to effectively manage other PO’s and stakeholders. It also makes it easier to track milestones and phases, as forecasting dates helps to make investment decisions-based on the best estimates of value, cost and risk. Moreover, it helps in managing dependencies and planning, and in meeting date expectations. Prioritization is also key, as forecasting helps to ensure that the most important features are prioritized and more likely to get shipped.
  • For stakeholders outside the team, having a release forecast makes it easy to get a sense of around when features are expected to GA, so they can plan launch activities (like announcements, content, enablement, etc.) accordingly.
  • For the team, release forecasting helps everyone frame the work and their day-to-day decisions so they know how to make better trade-offs. It also helps create the alignment around the story you want to tell. The goal is for teams to have a shared understanding and commitment to delivering on the agreed release (with flexibility to manage which features are targeted) by an agreed date, as they have the maximum autonomy around telling the story.
  • For management and leadership, release forecasting makes it possible to be better informed of overall product roadmap and releases.

The overall objective of a release forecast is not that it needs to be exact, but rather provide a ballpark and framework to work towards. There are several factors that you may need to consider that can directly influence the release forecast such as:

  • Team velocity
  • Size of user stories
  • Changes in release scope
  • Work not related to the release
  • Dependencies

The forecast should be transparent and continuously updated with the expectation that it may move. This is not a bad thing since it reflects “real-time” information at any point in time. What is most important is the decisions we make because it moves. We want everyone (the team, product owner, clients, stakeholders, etc.) to understand  progress so expectations are managed properly and everyone is working and making decisions from the same information.

Release forecasting as a high-level triangulation mechanism allows for planning for a series of iterations at a high level. Improved release forecasting facilitates DevOps best practices by orchestrating collaboration around a shared goal and communicating the entire scope of the release to project teams and stakeholders around a high level plan. Above all, the reason why this practice is so crucial is that it involves the team in its creation, which means more buy-in, accuracy, and empowerment.

The post Is Forecasting Releases Really Necessary? appeared first on PagerDuty.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By PagerDuty Blog

PagerDuty’s operations performance platform helps companies increase reliability. By connecting people, systems and data in a single view, PagerDuty delivers visibility and actionable intelligence across global operations for effective incident resolution management. PagerDuty has over 100 platform partners, and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, including Microsoft, National Instruments, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Rackspace, Etsy, Square and Github.

Latest Stories
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...