Release Planning: Sanity check your release plan and sell it
After you have the stories laid into sprints you can look the release plan over a couple of different ways to see if it all makes sense. Here are some. First, adjust your focus and hone in on a sprint at a time. Ask yourself this question about each of the upcoming few sprints:
- Am I asking people to do too many things in this sprint? Are there too many topics to focus on?
- Is there an overload on one or two people with a certain skill set? Or, are we so heavily focused in one area that some people on the team will have “no” work? (Hint: this can be solved for over time by making room for the team to naturally cross train)
- Are all the “outside” things lined up, like people you need to collaborate with, their managers, alignment on your approach or philosophy, etc.
Once you’ve done this and made adjustments at the sprint level, then change your focus again.
Look across the whole release plan and ask yourself this, “What are the main storylines happening throughout the sprints and at what points does my customer get value?” Adjust your plan until you think you are delivering the most value in the fastest way possible.
After that, create your elevator speech on the release plan. Get really good at telling the story of what the team is creating and when it produces value. Get good at doing it quickly – remember that this IS an elevator speech. Why get good at the elevator speech? Your team needs you to be the heat shield for them. One way is by delivering this speech to your sponsor, other stakeholders, people who have other projects that might derail yours, vendors, venture capitalists, anyone who cares. Sure, some people will want to get deeper and, for them, you can unveil all the detail. Many others just want to be “sold” – they want to know that the team has it under control. This is one tool you can use to demonstrate that, create alignment and clear the way for your team to work.