Showing release progress

Screenshot by Matti MattilaFor many teams continuous deployment is a long way away, and releases are time-consuming affairs, often involving a lot of people working intensely. Often that means the release is significant, because a consequence of a lengthy process is that it’s performed infrequently, which in turn means that the new version carries a lot much-anticipated functionality.

So at times like this it is both entirely understandable—and entirely unhelpful—for a few senior stakeholders to be floating around anxiously asking how things are going, unable to be distracted by anything else.

The quick and easy way to deal with this is to have a manager or team lead as the point-person for all such questions. They can intercept the stakeholders, answer questions, and generally provide information, explanations and confidence about progress.

Another way is to make the progress visible on a large whiteboard, or similar. This works especially well when you know the process in advance. The team can mark out the steps, and tick them off one by one. If a particular step is especially time-consuming—for example, manual testing on a system that wasn’t designed to be tested easily—then those interim steps can be broken out separately. Anyone can come by and check up on progress without disturbing the team.

This can also be useful to the team members themselves, especially if people have different roles.

Often this kind of thing is called an information radiator. But most teams I know tend to use that term when referring to something of longer-lasting interest, such as systems health, development progress, live usage stats, and so on. This is a reminder that such charts or boards can be useful in other circumstances, too.

Screenshot by Matti Mattila