A dam releasing water is  a release plan in action.

A dam releasing water is a release plan in action.

I have been involved with very few projects that did not have to answer the age old questions: “When are you going to deliver?” and “What are you going to deliver?” In standard waterfall projects we would answer those questions with requirements documents, charters and project schedules. In an Agile project a release plan answers the same “what” and “when” questions based organizational vision, project needs and team capabilities.

Organizational vision provides the goals and frameworks that guide product decisions. Goals describe what the organization aspires to and frameworks such as architectures describe the constraints teams operate within.

Project needs, whether they are called user stories, backlog items or just plain requirements, describe the business and technical needs of the team. Agile recognizes that needs evolve based on experience and business direction therefore release plans will change and need to be iterative.


Project information and team capabilities are reflected in estimates and the team’s velocity or productivity (how much work the team can accomplish per sprint). The size, complexity and team’s ability will influence how fast the team will deliver if the plan is focused on scope or how much the team can deliver if focused on calendar time.


Agile release plans pull together vision, project needs and capabilities to answer the questions that all project face: what will be delivered, and when will it be delivered. An Agile release plan is a mechanism for providing an answer to those age old questions.