When your product release is running smoothly, for an outsider it might seem that release is just an application switch.

But behind the scenes there is a lot of release planning and tracking that help deliver product and features to our customers. And it all wouldn't be possible without having a good software release process.

Let's have a look at how you can improve your release planning process by defining release templates and how to do that in Jira.

But first, what is a release plan?

Release plan is a set of information that helps define what is the scope of the release, important milestones and the timeline.

Creating release plan templates helps to make your release process repeatable and stable. Good release plan includes following information:

  • what is being delivered in version (list of user stories, bugs, improvements, etc.),
  • estimated velocity for Scrum release planning,
  • when version starts and when it ends,
  • defines release phases (stages, milestones, release checklist) product release goes through.

Identify your software development release stages

In product software delivery, we can treat stages as quality gates. Changes usually move through different testing environments where the quality checks are done before Production release.

Here is an example of Software release stages for web app:

  • Development phase - release scope is developed,
  • Test phase - Scope is tested,
  • Integration -  Regression tests are run,
  • Staging - Pre-deployment check where smoke tests are usually run,
  • Production - Deployment to production environments.
Example stages of development release process for better release planning
Example stages of development release process

It's a cross-team effort

Usually, you have many teams aiming towards a single goal - release or in other words - product launch. Each of them contributes to the release in a different way.

All teams are busy and need to finish their part on schedule. Even a small delay means blocking the next team to start and pushing the launch date. To quickly identify bottlenecks and prevent slipping of the releases it's good to track not only overall release status but also the statuses of its phases.

This is a step up from previous software release plan to product release plan, where we're looking on much bigger picture.

For example, to deliver a new web app to the users, the release first goes through design, then it's passed to development and testing. In the meantime, the Marketing team is preparing strategy and content to make sure the Launch date isn't postponed to wait for them.

Example of stages that application release goes through in order to be launched to users
Example of stages that application release goes through in order to be launched to users

Not all releases are alike

Release stages are great, but creating them in a way they fit for every single release and every single client is hard.

To solve this issue create different release plan templates for different types of releases.

Let's take our web application example. We identified these types of releases and created different template for each of them:

  • MVP - the initial launch of application or its features,
  • Improvements - small improvements and bug fixes,
  • Hotfixes - Major bug fixes that need to get live ASAP.
Example of different release phases for different types of releases
Example of different release phases for different types of releases

You can also create release types based on the environments (web app, mobile, UI-library) or based on your clients.

Time to create your Release template in Jira using Swanly

Swanly is an app for Jira cloud that helps to schedule and organize releases in Jira.

It allows you to create different release templates with predefined stages that can be used as a release checklist or to track important release phases and milestones.

There is also an option to add a default duration of each phase. The duration is then used to recommend the length of the release during planning.

Release templates in Swanly - Release Management Timeline for Jira
Example of release templates in Swanly

When planning a new release in Swanly use release template to create right release stages and link the scope to the release.

Your release then shows on the release roadmap view and creates a detailed release report where you can find all release progress information including scope progress, release burndown chart and release phases. All information are provided in real-time which makes Jira release planing and tracking much easier.

Release timeline with the release detail and stages progress makes release planning in Jira easier
Release timeline with the release detail and stages progress.

If your development team already uses Jira Cloud from Atlassian, you can try our app, Swanly - Jira Release Management Timeline, for free.

Don't forget that what gets measured gets improved. Standardazing and creating your release plans and templates helps bring stability and visibility to your release process.

If you're not sure where to start you can watch following video where I explain how to create your release governance 👇