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Internal Software Release Scheduling

Hey Folks,

We have a large field force automation tool that we use to create and report on work for 1000s of locations. The application is web based is used by our entire company, representing over 900 clients.

We are being asked to start doing phased releases with 4 phases per year. The process will be we gather requirements and then assign the new features to a phase where we have time to do it. Develop and test during the selected phase and then release.

Top management thinks this is a great idea. My problem is that this does not match our business model at all. Typically, the business asks for a new set of features or changes and we create a project. At the end of the project, we release the changes. Many times a year, a new client will come on board and have their own set of requirements for our software and we will drop everything and code the new requirements in order to get the client on board. While this is not ideal, I understand that getting new clients is what makes us money and I can live with the disruptions.

Our current project schedule looks like this (in order of priority):

1. Client project - 3 months work
2. Client project - 3 months work
3. Client project - 3 months work
4. Internally requested enhancements - 4 months
5. Major Internal project - 3-4 months
6 Major Internal project - 1-2 years

Projects 4 and 5 were our top priority last November. Now client projects have over ridden them.

I don't have a problem working this way but management wants to change to a scheduled release process. I don't think it will work.

How are the rest of you internal developers handling release schedules?

Oh, yeah, please don't say XP, we already use it where we feel it is appropriate.

PangoX

PangoX
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

woah you guys have a force field automation tool??


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

What's your question?

We work on internal and external applications to support my companies business (financial services).  So I think my company is similar to yours, but I don't understand what you're asking.  We release small customizations on a weekly basis and larger projects every month or 2.

chris
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Well, there are two ways to answer this.

1. From You to Management: What problem will this new release schedule solve?

2. From Management to You: Are you the programmer? Great - program and let us worry about attracting clients.

m
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Chris,

We currently do it the same way as your company. Minor updates on an as-needed basis with major release every few months.

What management is trying to do is stop minor releases and only go with major approved projects and then release the major projects on a predefined schedule that is completely unrelated to the project. My feeling is that, sure, we could do it this way but it will only piss off every one of our internal customers who need a small tweak made to the application but have to wait months until the next scheduled release.

I know this will not work but wanted to know if any internal developers were able to work on this kind of schedule.

If anyone is able to set in stone scheduled releases, how is it working for you.

M,

The first option is right on - just what problem are they trying to solve by doing this? So far, they don't know but scheduled releases sure sounds good to them for some reason.

As to the second option, it is not the sales people trying to enforce this, it is IT management. I am the program manager not the developer. Ultimately, if I follow their schedule, my application will be viewed as inflexible and not adaptable to our business environment.

As to the Force Field Automation, I sure wish I had it. Unfortunately, we are only automating the field sales force.

PangoX

PangoX
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

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