What is a Software Release Plan?

What does a software release plan mean? Well, it simply refers to a plan in which developers and other relevant people follow a specific schedule for software releases. One such method is an agile software release plan. In this plan, numerous updates are staggered and handled for optimization in many release strategies. Having a release strategy like this proves to be advantageous because it may make the process of releasing software more organized and efficient.

More importantly, having a software release plan also adds to a much more methodical philosophy of software development by assisting different companies in understanding how to work a lot better toward the final phases of development while minimizing interruption and confusion throughout a highly involved process.

Elements of a Software Release Plan

Here are the following details that are usually recorded when creating a software release plan:

Basic Details. The basic details of the software release plan usually include the name of the owner of the document, the date on when the release plans are to be submitted, the type of software release, the number of releases, the plan and its risk level, the owner of the release program, and the release plan’s duration.Version Changes. This detail talks about what the major changes of the program’s previous version are, as well as the last known system that the program has utilized.Affected People. This detail of the software release plan focuses on the users that may be affected, therefore they need to adapt in some way to the release changes as well as some tips to prepare the affected users accordingly.Risks. Every software release always entails risks, which must be addressed accordingly in a release plan. Otherwise, they may go unnoticed. Not just the possible problem, but also the risk, should have mitigation strategies.Change Request Approval. This element of the software release plan should discuss any request for a release modification and it also mentions that it must be filed, evaluated, authorized, and recorded. This section also describes the chain process that is to be followed during the approval process.TimelineThis part of the release plan is described as a high-level plan that is to be used for the software release and it also outlines what needs to be done and the roles that the personnel involved will take, as well as the status of the plan, and any types of comments that the personnel can have about a specific task or a specific part of the release plan.

Different Types of Software Releases

Software releases also come in different types. You may wonder what are those types, so here it is:

The Software Release Life Cycle

Have you ever wondered what stages does a particular kind of software undergoes before it is fully released to the public for general use? Well, here is the software release life cycle to explain all the stages:

Pre-Alpha Stage. All operations carried out during the software project prior to official testing are referred to as pre-alpha. This phase serves as the release lifecycle’s basis, supervising software development, design, requirement analysis, and testing. Because this is the initial phase, it is only inevitable that there would be numerous bugs that are present and will be fixed in subsequent phases.Alpha Stage. The initial step of software testing is the alpha stage of the release life cycle. After analyzing the pre-alpha version, the developers and testers begin alpha testing the program. Problems that were present from the pre-alpha period have been addressed prior to this stage. The program is then forwarded to the Quality Assurance (QA) department for extra testing. Alpha software is not completely tested by the developer before it is provided to users since it is the result of the very first phase of testing. As a result, alpha stage software may include major flaws, and any associated instability may result in crashes or data loss.Beta Stage. The beta stage of software development follows the alpha stage. Betaware is a common term used to describe software at the beta stage. A beta phase typically begins when the program has all of its features but is still likely to have a number of actual or hidden flaws. Certain issues, such as performance and crashes, are fixed throughout the beta testing period. The program is subsequently distributed to the intended audience in accordance with the customer’s specifications. The goal of beta testing is to minimize the impact on consumers, and it frequently includes usability testing. Software beta releases can be open or private, depending on whether they are open to the public or exclusively to a select group of people.Release Candidate. What does it mean when a certain type of software is now considered to be a release candidate? To define, a release candidate (RC) is a beta version of the software that has the potential to be a stable product and is ready for release unless severe flaws are discovered. This phase is responsible for creating the final version of the program and resolving any serious issues or minor faults that may have arisen. There is no more possibility for enhancements or adjustments at this point because the program has already through a number of tests. As a result, the RC version is regarded the final version that is suitable for market release.Stable Release. What is a stable release? The stable release, also known as the production release, is the most recent release candidate (RC) that has passed all verifications and testing. The remaining bugs are that are present in the software are now usually deemed to be acceptable. This release is then put into production.Live Release. This can also be called by others the “going live” phase. The software’s mature and final release is fully completed at this phase. The client’s website or corresponding platforms are used for the release. Software that is in this release phase is bow deemed to be ready for use by the end-users.

How to Plan a Software Release

Whenever you are planning for a software release, keep in mind that it should be an activity with the full involvement of the software development team. With that being said, here are the steps to successfully plan a software release:

  • 1. Define/Identify Your Release Goal

    The first step in planning for a successful software release is to obviously determine what your release goal is. During this step, the entire team must be able to describe the general aim of the release as well as how the release is connected with the product’s bigger vision and strategy. Holding a meeting to come up with a list as to what has to be included in the rollout is one option. The correct approach to do so is to examine your to-be-released log and determine the features/bug fixes that fit your team’s definition of ready. It is also critical at this time to hear from the software developers about any technical issues or prospective obstacles that may cause the release process to fail.

  • 2. Check for any Backlogs

    This step is done after identifying the release goals of the plan. In this step, what you need to do is to go through the entire work backlog and rate your team’s work items, prioritizing them based on their relevance for the release goal. You should remember in this step that you’re seeking to find the most critical elements to support the objective in this phase, so be prepared to eventually leave out less vital features for future iterations of the software release.

  • 3. Provide a Release Estimate

    Once all the backlogs/critical tasks have been sorted, it is then time to provide an estimate of the product release. In order to aid with the planning phase, the backlog items, as many of them identified in the previous stage as feasible, should already have the latest corresponding narrative point estimations. It is also important to do a review on all the estimates with your team, adjust them as appropriate, and create corresponding fresh estimates for any backlog items that have not yet been estimated.

  • 4. Determine and Create Release Sprints

    How you determine the number of sprints is based on the results of the provided release estimate. Once you’ve successfully determined how many sprints you need, you can start creating them. But what is a release sprint? A release sprint is primarily focused on delivering new deliverables. There is no development at this time, however frequent tasks on your backlog during a release sprint comprise of performance testing, completion of user documentation, error repair, and other activities. If your process includes particular activities for putting software into production, a supplementary sprint might be formed to complete those responsibilities.

  • 5. Prepare for Initial Launch

    Preparation in this step usually includes setting a target completion or release date for the sprints or the software. Sometimes you have to launch features into the production process that aren’t yet ready for all consumers to consume. If this occurs, you can employ a technique known as dark launching. You’re essentially limiting access to program functionality when you use dark starting. You may enable and disable various features for specific groups, individual clients, or everyone. Using this method, your team may quickly release functions and test them in production.

  • 6. Update the Release Plan and Prepare for Contingencies

    Once everything is set in motion, all you have to do is continuously update the release plan. One thing you can do is to revisit the release plan on a frequent basis to monitor how the team is doing against the plan and to look for any changes that may affect what assets will be delivered or the date of delivery. If something changes, the strategy must be modified, and you may need to speak with business owners and many others. If something goes awry or should any contingencies arise, you should have a plan in place to reverse a release and return the back to its initial condition. This is known as a rollback plan.


What does Release to Manufacturing (RTM) mean?

The term “Release to Manufacturing” basically refers to the version of the software that is initially made available to hardware makers for bundling. The RTM procedure is advantageous in that it assists developers in working out any flaws before to wide release through manufacturer refining of the program. This version of software may be digitally signed, allowing the end-user to validate the software’s integrity and validity. This term is also commonly used across general merchandise mass-production software contexts in which the software is sold as part of a package in a related computer hardware sale and where the software and related hardware are eventually to be available and sold on a mass/public basis at retail locations to indicate that the software has fulfilled a defined level of quality and is suitable for mass retail distribution.

What is a software release?

A software release is the official version of the software that is made available to end-users after some more enhancements and bug fixes. Several actions are included in the process, including analyzing the requirements for release, developing the necessary codes, building, deployment, and software testing. Depending on the updates and changes done in the program, the future software release might be either private or public.

Why is planning for a software release so important?

Planning a software release is very important since it enables you to set and clarify the corresponding objectives of the software release, define the scope of the release plan, create a rough estimate as to when a set goal or a set number of release sprints should be completed, oversee the software release implementation and completion, and identify any constraints or contingencies that may arise.

Software is one of the products in our digital world that are constantly changing. Every now and then, new updates are released that may contain fixes to critical bugs, or they may contain new features to improve the quality of life of the end-user that utilizes the product. With the help of a clear and concise software release plan behind the scenes, it always gives a guarantee that the subsequent software releases will have high reliability. In this article, you can find different examples of a software release plan that you can use as a personal reference in case you need to make one.