The Release-Ready Agile Team

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In today’s world of startups and exciting new products, engineering teams are expected to deliver long lasting and durable software in an increasingly short amount of time. Agile practices are helping teams meet this demand by enabling them to release early and often. If you’ve ever wondered how Agile can help your team, or how it helps the most successful teams to release on schedule with every sprint, then look no further. Over 500k agile projects are in JIRA, and Atlassian has taken a closer look at them in order to find the common trends that help to make these teams so successful.

Planning

Every successful team treats sprint planning as one of the most important phases of the agile process. Without a good sprint planning process, your team cannot guarantee a release on time and budget. So, what do the most successful agile teams do to ensure a productive sprint planning phase?

For starters, Atlassian found that on average no more than 30 issues were assigned to a sprint. This is an important part of ensuring that your engineering team isn’t taking on more work than they can realistically handle. When deadlines pile up, teams tend to see an increased workload. While this is often expected, it’s important to remember that rushed code is more likely to create technical debt over well planned and carefully written code. While sometimes a difficult standard to hold to, a limit on tickets per sprint will go on to help your team release code that lasts.

Another common metric found by Atlassian was that the most successful agile teams had an average of 12 “epics” in their backlogs. This is an important find because it highlights a team’s ability to visualize what’s coming next in the release plan. It’s also important to remember that backlogs are useless without communication. Your team might have a well-groomed backlog, but it’s important to make sure that your team leaders spend time looking through it while communicating the upcoming requirements to the rest of the team.

Tracking

Tracking the health of every sprint is another key factor that enables successful agile teams. One of the core metrics found by Atlassian was that on average, a sprint lasted for 10 days. If it seems difficult to fit an entire sprint in such a small time frame, it’s okay to move issues into a backlog. The key here is balance. Your team needs time to complete the sprint, but they also need time to review backlogs, adjust goals, and hold meaningful retrospectives. A sprint that lasts too long may detract from these equally important aspects of a successful agile process. Give your team time to reflect and refocus, and they’ll thank you with a successful release.

How much work should be in a 10 day sprint? Atlassian found that 73% of planned issues were completed. This usually occurs because teams often try to complete more work than they are capable of completing in a short time frame. Keeping track of your agile process gets a lot easier when your team is not overwhelmed by how many issues they have left to complete. It’s always better to decrease the amount of issues in your sprint if it means improving the health and clarity of your team.

Releasing

What would a successful agile team be without a successful release cycle? As it turns out, most teams wait just 15 days between releases. That may seem like a short amount of time, but the target is a lot easier to hit once your agile process is working correctly. In fact, Atlassian found that the best agile teams release about 20% more often than their competitors.

Another important part of the release cycle is the day that releases occur. Monday is the most popular release day according to Atlassian’s findings, but the key to a healthy release cycle is finding a day that works best for your business and team requirements. Whichever day you end up choosing, make sure that your releases are planned in advance.

Conclusion

Agile can be a difficult process to correctly implement. Once integrated however, it will enable your team to release quickly and efficiently. However you decide to explore the data from Atlassian, the key takeaway is to build the agile process that works best for you and your team. Of course, having access to more than 500,000 other agile projects and being able to see what makes them successful helps too.

No one understands agile teams better than Atlassian, and thanks to JIRA, they’re able to share that knowledge with other interested agile teams. Be sure to take a look at the infographic they’ve put together here.

View the infographic here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Release-Ready Agile Teams

What is the importance of a release-ready agile team in software development?

A release-ready agile team is crucial in software development as it ensures that the product is always in a state that can be released to the market at any time. This readiness reduces the time to market, increases the team’s flexibility to respond to changes, and improves customer satisfaction by delivering value more frequently. It also reduces risks associated with big releases and allows for quicker feedback from users, which can be used to improve the product in subsequent iterations.

How can a team become release-ready?

A team can become release-ready by adopting agile practices such as continuous integration, automated testing, and frequent iterations. The team should also have a clear definition of “done” that includes all the necessary steps to make the product releasable, such as coding, testing, documentation, and approval. Regular reviews and retrospectives can help the team to continuously improve their practices and maintain their release readiness.

What are the challenges in achieving release readiness?

Some of the challenges in achieving release readiness include resistance to change, lack of necessary skills or tools, and difficulties in coordinating with other teams or departments. It may also be challenging to maintain the quality of the product while delivering at a high speed. Overcoming these challenges requires strong leadership, effective communication, continuous learning, and a culture that encourages experimentation and embraces failures as opportunities for improvement.

How does release readiness contribute to business value?

Release readiness contributes to business value by enabling faster delivery of features that meet customer needs, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and competitive advantage. It also reduces the costs and risks associated with big releases, and allows for quicker feedback and learning, which can lead to better products and more innovation.

What is the role of automation in release readiness?

Automation plays a key role in release readiness by speeding up the development process and reducing the risk of human errors. It can be used in various stages of the development process, such as coding, testing, deployment, and monitoring. Automation also enables continuous integration and continuous delivery, which are essential for maintaining release readiness.

How can we measure the effectiveness of a release-ready team?

The effectiveness of a release-ready team can be measured by metrics such as the frequency of releases, the quality of the product (e.g., number of defects), the time to market, and the level of customer satisfaction. Feedback from users and stakeholders can also provide valuable insights into the team’s performance.

How does a release-ready team collaborate with stakeholders?

A release-ready team collaborates closely with stakeholders to understand their needs and expectations, and to get their feedback on the product. This collaboration can be facilitated by practices such as product demos, user testing, and regular communication.

What is the impact of a release-ready team on the organization’s culture?

A release-ready team can have a positive impact on the organization’s culture by promoting values such as transparency, collaboration, continuous improvement, and customer focus. It can also help to break down silos and foster a culture of shared responsibility for the product’s success.

How can a release-ready team handle changes in requirements?

A release-ready team can handle changes in requirements by adopting an iterative and incremental approach, which allows for flexibility and quick adaptation to changes. The team should also work closely with stakeholders to understand the changes and their impact on the product, and to prioritize the work accordingly.

What are some best practices for maintaining release readiness?

Some best practices for maintaining release readiness include regular reviews and retrospectives to identify areas for improvement, continuous integration and automated testing to ensure the quality of the product, clear and frequent communication with stakeholders, and a strong focus on customer value. The team should also invest in continuous learning and skill development to keep up with the latest practices and technologies.

Tim EvkoTim Evko
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Tim Evko is a front end web developer from New York, with a passion for responsive web development, Sass, and JavaScript. He lives on coffee, CodePen demos and flannel shirts.

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