Have you ever been in this situation? You’re on a project, sitting in a room on the day of or the day before the release date, management raises the question, “Are we ready to release?”, and everyone in the room looks around to get a sense of whether a head nod or shake will do as an answer.
Many times, these type of release meetings, also known as go/no go meetings, are held unsupervised, with no one really setting or managing the agenda. Too many times, the discussion goes off rail to discuss which bugs are still open, which test cases failed, and what will happen if the end user does not get what they are expecting on the release date. Basically, Pandora’s box is opened, and another release meeting is scheduled with the entire team for a couple of days later.
If you’ve experienced the above, here are some tips to have a much healthier and effective release meeting:
- Assign a role that is associated with the team (it can either be a PM, Product Owner, QA Manager, Dev. Manager, etc.) to lead and facilitate the discussion.
- Set the agenda to begin with reviewing the requirements/user scenarios (e.g. a requirements traceability matrix, which always help to communicate the end to end). This helps ensure that what was identified as a requirement will be accomplished in the course of the project. Based on the audience and format, include a demonstration of the solution or features, which helps tie the requirements to the functionality being released.
- Review the exit criteria and metrics, which can be bug metrics, test coverage measurements, unit test completion, deployment, training, etc. These metrics should correspond to the agreed upon release criteria or checklist being used by the team to measure and manage the project.
By having the above in place, everyone in the room will have a clear picture of precisely what was needed, implemented, tested, and deployed. In some cases, everyone will give a head nod when the question is raised, “Are we ready to release?” – The result may be too obvious (“Release / Ship It!”). On the other hand, it could raise an opportunity where a smaller set of teams meet afterwards for further discussions.
Either way, the meeting time will be maximized by the agenda, facilitator, and release criteria, and any follow-ups will be healthy to have. Of course, the number one tip to keep in mind is letting your key stakeholders know the release date in advance. This will provide them (and your team) with the maximum amount of understanding and flexibility to deliver the right quality solution in the right time!
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