We all know that a coin has two sides. When flipped, the odds of one side or the other coming up on top are equal. This article represents the other side of the argument presented in the article “Phased Releases, Plan for Them.” That article discussed the common reality of delaying the implementation of certain features to maintain a new product’s release schedule. To address the reality of delays, the article suggested planning for delays up front so that objective decisions could be made. This article discusses some of the impacts that those delays and subsequent releases may have.
Unlike a coin toss, planning for phased releases and considering their impacts are not exact opposites. The relationship is more appropriately viewed as cause and effect with phased releases having both negative and, perhaps, some positive impacts as listed below:
With the removal or implementation delay of some features, the schedule can be maintained which will allow other elements in the organization, business partners, and customers to maintain their planned implementation. Some of the positive impacts, perhaps thought of as “spin” are:
- With fewer features, the likelihood of bugs or failures should decrease making the product more reliable.
- Implementation should be easier with the reduced scope.
- With the subsequent release, discovered latent defects in the previous release should be able to be addressed in a more timely manner.
Offsetting those positive impacts are some far more likely and significant negative impacts that may occur.
- Another incremental release implemented to add back the delayed features will require a considerable amount of duplication of effort for the development and testing teams.
- There will be an additional support burden placed on Customer Service personnel, the documentation effort, and customers who may have to manage simultaneous releases and the upgrade process.
- Some business customers, based on the product and its application, may go through their own testing regime and internal training before deployment. An additional release may place an undue or even unacceptable burden on them.
From the above simplistic pros and cons listing, it should be clear that the phased release approach to maintaining schedules needs to consider the internal and external impact well beyond the company’s desire to maintain a new product release schedule. Unlike a coin toss, the decision is not as simple as heads or tails, black or white.