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With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles. Out of a wide range of topics, you can choose to learn from the real-world experiences by practitioners in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc.

Sprint Planning Vs Release Planning

In the modern age, Scrum tends to be the most used Agile framework globally. Usually, the word 'Agile' includes a collection of values & principles for handling products that are challenging & complex. Although Scrum was originally invented to be used in software development, nowadays, it's used in every possible field to offer creative goods & services to satisfy customers.

To use Scrum in the best possible manner, it's essential to have a clear understanding of the entire Scrum structure by simply using it and then continuously adjusting the implementation based on the results. And to implement Scrum in the ideal method, it's crucial to learn about Release Planning & Sprint Planning. Although Sprint Planning is a Scrum Event, Release Planning is not a Scrum Event but it is only a good practice followed by Scrum Teams. In this comprehensive blog post, we'll be comparing both Release Planning & Sprint Planning, so that you can have a better idea regarding the same.

Sprint Planning
Definition

Sprint Planning is one of the Scrum Events and can be defined as a working session that takes place on the first day of the Sprint. This event enables the Scrum Team members to anonymously agree to a set of Product Backlog items that will be concluded during the Sprint cycle.

When the Sprint Planning takes place, the Scrum Teams can also plan to synchronize with each other and agree on the main priorities.

Importance of Sprint Planning

The Sprint Planning tends to offer a great opportunity for the whole Scrum Team to collaborate and work together so that they can determine what Developers would be implemented during the Sprint cycle. It should be remembered that a team that clearly understands the goals will always prove to be successful.

Sprint Planning

The process of Sprint Planning involves every team member, including the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Developers. Sprint Planning is usually carried out on the first day of the Sprint. The Scrum Master ensures that Sprint Planning takes place and also facilitates the event.

When the Sprint Planning takes place, the Product Owner will be accountable for synchronizing the objective or intention of the Sprint. The Product Owner will also be determining the ideal Product Backlog items which will help in contributing towards the specified goal. The objective of each Sprint should be to amplify the overall desirability of the product to the user.

Once done, the Scrum Team will then create a Sprint plan based on the Sprint Goal, in collaboration with the Product Owner. The Product Owner along with the Scrum Team will have to negotiate the Product Backlog items which are to be included.

Advantages of Sprint Planning
  • Sets up a communication platform for the Scrum Team

When the Sprint Planning event takes place, the Scrum Team members get the ideal opportunity to efficiently identify their capacities and dependencies to achieve the goals. Thus, they can then plan their work to seamlessly achieve those objectives during their ongoing Sprint.

  • Assists in prioritizing the deliverable

The Product Owner helps in prioritizing the Product Backlog with the significant items at the top of the list. Then the Scrum Team will be selecting only those items which have been prioritized by the Product Owner in the Product Backlog items list. Ultimately, the Scrum Team breaks them into smaller items. In that way, only the essential features of the product will be delivered in the early lifecycle of the Sprint.

  • Prevents Scrum Team burnout

Since the Developers will be selecting the goals based on their estimations & capabilities, the team will be able to set its targets. As a result, there will be no involvement of a third party to set goals that can be unachievable for the Scrum Team members.

Disadvantages of Sprint Planning
  • Lacklustre estimations can lead to failures

As the tasks of the current Sprint will be calculated by the Developers based on their estimations, capabilities & workload, any wrong estimations may lead to the inability to reach the Sprint Goal.

  • Proper knowledge of Scrum is a necessity to carry out Sprint Planning

To create a successful Sprint Planning session, the team should be highly aware of the Scrum framework. Without proper knowledge as well as experience, Sprint Planning cannot prove to be successful.

Release Planning
Definition

Release Planning can be defined as a product management method where the incremental releases of a product are planned. The planning process differs from traditional software planning procedures where the primary focus is on the major releases.

In Release Planning, the team prepares for staged releases and then eventually breaks those releases down into several iterations. Thus, based on the team structure as well as the size of the project, there can be several Sprints operating at the same moment. A Sprint will end with a Product Increment but that doesn't necessarily mean that a product release might happen.

Therefore, it can be said that Release Planning tends to be a broader concept that includes Sprint Planning.

Importance of Release Planning

The primary significance of Release Planning is to ensure that the product is moving towards the correct Goal and that logical releases are happening frequently. A Release Plan will simply outline the immediate future releases of a product but will not plan for multiple years to come. Furthermore, it's much more detailed than a product roadmap.

With the help of Release Planning, you can ensure that you'll be able to generate a consistent version of your product every time. Besides, it's also a fantastic tool for combining the alterations which will have a significant impact on the overall user experience.

Release Planning process

The first step that has to be undertaken in the Release Planning process is to define the goal for the Release. The goal will be able to guide the subsequent decisions on the product features that should be prioritized, areas where more resources & effort should be applied, and suggest ways to adapt in case the project will require any adjustment during the development procedure.

Once the Release goal has been created, it'll be time to review the Product Backlog and then rank the features in order of priority. During this stage, the stakeholder input, as well as the product vision, will be utilized for the same. Thus, the Product Owner should outline a basic Release Plan including the Release target date, Release goal, and the prioritized features. The proposed plan will be reviewed and any changes necessary will be made. This final step ensures that everyone is on the same page before kick-starting the project.

Advantages of Release Planning
  • Eliminate any release failure

Due to the undertaking of strong governance & policy by the stakeholders, preventive actions can be taken against potential release failures. As a result, such failures can be mitigated quickly.

  • Better collaboration

Release Planning brings together various skillsets & teams, which are involved in the release management process, via instant communication & sharing of information. All the stakeholders involved in the Release Planning process will have timely & complete insights into changes, schedules, status & priority.

  • Better productivity

Since the best practices & standards are enforced & created across the Release Planning process, including the allocation of efficient test environments for supporting releases, product releases can enjoy smoother transitions from the development stage to the final stage.

Disadvantages of Release Planning
  • Incorrect Release goals can lead to failure

As the sole success of Release Planning depends on carefully finding out the Release goal, any issues in creating the ideal Release goal will affect the entire Release Planning procedure. If the Release goal is not crystal clear to the stakeholders, the Product Backlog cannot be prioritized properly, leading to the failure of the entire Release.

  • Incorrect prioritizing of the Product Backlog will lead to failure

To create a minimum viable product, proper prioritizing of the Product Backlog will be necessary. If the prioritization hasn't been done properly, the team may ship with irrelevant features, leading to the failure of the Release.

Conclusion

It should come as no surprise to know that Scrum has been inherently designed to optimize the overall efficiency, creativity & productivity of the developers, enhance the product quality, increase the transparency to stakeholders and satisfy the needs of the customer. And to obtain those goals, both Release Planning, as well as Sprint Planning, play a crucial part in the entire procedure.

References
  1. https://www.Scrum.org/resources/what-is-sprint-planning 
  2. https://www.romanpichler.com/blog/release-planning-advice/
  3. https://www.visual-paradigm.com/Scrum/what-is-Scrum-release-planning/

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Author

Paula

Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.