Diagnosing and Confronting the Release Planning Loopholes

The researchers are working on finding the loopholes and shortcomings in the current methodologies used for software release planning. Despite using multiple alternatives, many releases fail to reach the desired outcomes within a predefined range of resources. For the past few years, the agile development methodology reduced the percentage of failure. However, the failure rate is still significant.

Research conducted at Oxford on product release reveals that over 12% of projects using agile software release planning were unable to meet deadlines. On average, over 90% of modules of these projects overrun the deadline by a huge margin. Moreover, almost 14% of projects cost twice more than their initial allocated budget. The percentage of those with less than twice budget overrun is even greater.

Project management team at MobInspire collected case studies from various companies and found a number of loopholes which resulted in challenged or failed releases. The study also includes research from published in top journals.

Shortcomings in software release planning can be classified into six categories.

Uncertainty in Release Time

Most of the companies are unsure about the timing of release. This problem arises from the inefficient work distribution. Many participants, originally employees of software development and maintenance companies, in a survey revealed that they were assigned intensely ambitious tasks with little time.

Most of them highlight the fact that prefixed time fails to consider the delays due to unforeseen issues. Contrarily, the flexible time policy may take longer but compensates the delays caused due to inefficiencies.

Research in neurosciences indicates that humans are naturally optimistic. For this reason, they fail to comprehend some of the limitations which end up causing trouble at some point.

The user demand is one of the prime factors shaping the release plan. The demand may follow from a feature introduced by a competitor or from poorly performing feature. Some companies fix the time of release. Annual, twice a year and quarterly release planning are common. However, a significant rate of customer demand may result in unscheduled release too.

Ambiguous Goals

Ambiguity about the goals is one of the prime factors causing delays. It also results in substantial cost hike. The scheduling of release becomes highly challenging. The frequency of problems is greater when the developers are attempting to integrate functionality for the first time.

There are instances when the requirements of projects are constantly evolving. This phenomenon keeps the managers thinking about the time of next release. Besides, it also brings up the challenge of sequencing the releases. Experts from the corporate sector reiterate that each release should contain a limited number of additions and fixes.

The best way to tackle the sequencing problem is to adopt the customer-centric approach. This approach should only be superseded by deploying the release which intends to eliminate the security vulnerability in the system.

Excessive Coupling among Systems

Many systems involved in a project are interdependent on each other. This dependence causes side-effect or unintended modification while making changes to another system. The coupling of systems is not bad because it increases usability. However, excessive coupling makes it highly difficult for modification. Thus, a team fails to meet the release deadline because fixing one problem creates another.

To ensure smooth release where rest of the system remains intact while making changes, managers need to separate the concerns. Each system should be an independent module. A middleware should serve as a connection between the two entities.

Frequency of Bugs

It is close to impossible to have no bugs at all in a large scale software product. With every release, the developers try to fix the errors which were left during the previous release. This struggle to fix the bugs causes delays. While adding new features, it is highly likely that one of the previously existing bugs causes the product to behave improperly. This problem depicts that an error ignored earlier can create major trouble in the long run.

MIT Technology Review finds leaving deliberate bugs in code is essential to trick the attackers. A person with malicious intent regarding exploiting the code vulnerability looks for the loophole. Thus, bugs are not always troublesome.

However, coders can eliminate intentional bugs easily. In any other case, the errors can be the reason behind delays and increased expenditure.

Dearth of Resources

Many companies attempt to achieve a milestone without an appropriate resource at their disposal. Most of the delays are caused for this very reason. In fact, the availability of the correct release planning tools enables the teams to reach the milestone ahead of time. It also results in increasing confidence of release management individuals as they are able to eliminate the element of uncertainty.

Some team managers are reluctant to incorporate new tools to avoid the hassle of training the employees. Thus, they continue with the same old environment. This is intensely wrong approach because training them once will assist every time when the release is impending.

Communication between Stakeholders

The development of a product involves members of various teams including designers, developers, and testers. Likewise, the release planning should also include every stakeholder including the potential customers. To take the customers’ viewpoint, one may ask a selection of users. If the product is intended for mass use, online surveys are helpful.

Taking the opinion of every stakeholder into consideration enables the managers to prevent the overrunning of cost and time deadlines.

The cases of top companies unveil their high success rates. Each of these companies holds frequent meetings and offer excellent resources to release management teams. However, startups may have small budgets to offer relatively expensive tools and services.

Struggling with Product Development?

These cases indicate that the availability of appropriate services and tools can significantly improve release management. It is unwise to generalize these problems for every kind of software products. Nevertheless, these are the most frequently occurring problems which cause delays and exceed budget. Investing in smooth release is as essential as efficient development.

If you are stuck at any point of software product development, contact us today. Our expert teams will assist you with efficient infrastructure.