Short release duration—the time from starting development on a feature set until it is tested for value, for example when customers pay for an upgrade—is an implied goal of agile methods and lean product management. Short release durations help companies test market theories to maximize profit, identify and mitigate deployment and usability problems, exercise the entire value chain of internal processes, and diagnose accumulating technical debt.
Attempting to reduce release duration may help drive agile behavior through a company. Shorter release durations motivate automated testing, high-availability architectures and streamlined configuration and deployment.
As an added bonus, release duration can be easy to compute: Finance departments often collect relevant data to satisfy capitalization and depreciation rules.
|Citrix Online release duration history|
After Citrix Online adopted Scrum [suth2011] and Enterprise Scrum [gree2010], release duration dropped from an average of over 35 months to less than 4 months, better than what it had as a small startup. Its market share rose during the same period. Data from another company, PatientKeeper, also seems to indicate that short release durations correlate with more profitable outcomes.
On February 7, 2012 at 11:00am EST, Scrum.org will host a webcast where I will explain how to measure release duration, how different forms of technical debt cause release duration to increase, and how limiting release duration can motivate paying down technical debt. Click here to register for the webcast.
Dan Greening is an agile management consultant, specializing in enterprise-level agility, lean product management and finance. Dan joined Citrix Online in 2007, and became its Director of Engineering Productivity and User Experience from 2008 to 2011. He developed an agile portfolio management process. Dan co-founded several startups. He has been Principal Investigator on three National Science Foundation SBIR grants. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from UCLA. Dan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Daniel Greening, “Enterprise Scrum: Scaling Scrum to the Enterprise Level,” 2010 43rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii January 5-8, ISBN: 978-0-7695-3869-3 (10 pages)
- Jeffrey V Sutherland, D. M. van Solingen and Eelco Rustenberg, The Power of Scrum, CreateSpace (2011), ISBN 978-1463578060.