Every product is meant to be released and every release is meant to bring value to the customer. However, as all product managers know, not all releases are equal! Some go well and others are painful – sometimes they’re even monsters, as Saeed Khan of Transformation Labs explains in this Product Tank Toronto talk.
Watch the video to see his talk in full, or read on for an overview of his key points:
- What a great release looks like
- Defining your objective
- Assessing risk
To start, we first have to understand what is meant by a great release. In his talk, Saeed defines a major functional release as:
A set of new capabilities and improvements requiring large effort and providing significant value to the company and the market
While all product managers go through the process of making their products go live, release planning is not always a clear, well-defined process.
In order to bring harmony and clarity to product release planning, Saeed shared a few tips (and an awesome Release Planning Canvas) with the ProductTank Toronto community.
Focus on the “Why”
Every step of the product development cycle should be driven by purpose. The first thing that should be done when planning a release is defining its objective. What are you trying to validate? What is the problem that you aim to solve for your users? Stating unambiguous answers to these questions will guide you for the rest of the release.
Share the Game Plan
Major releases impact companies in multiple ways. There is a new product to market, sell and provide support for. Understand the needs of your stakeholders. Communicate the release plan early on. This will save you the trouble of having to adjust your strategy to fit the demands of someone else in the organization.
Spot the Potential Fires
Few product processes are perfect and problem-free, but assessing risks and potential obstacles during the planning phase will significantly improve your chances of success.
Define the Win
As Saeed explains, “if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” and beyond helping you assess performance, having meaningful metrics for your release process is the key to improvement over time.
Saeed left the audience with a Release Planning Canvas, encapsulating the major questions every product person should ask themselves when releasing. Ultimately, monster product releases (named Kraken releases by Saeed) are born from poor planning, politics and exertion of power and, at times, will require heroics to be stopped in their tracks. However, as he points out if you need to be a hero, it means the system has failed somewhere.