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Agile Release Train: A Whitepaper

Recently, I’ve been working with a  software enterprise helping them tune their agile process to better align the agile teams to the broader enterprise objectives. One particular subgroup has twelve agile teams, each of whom has a specific product mission in the marketplace. (Think “point products”). However, they must now also cooperate on building their application so that users of multiple products have additional utility based on integrations and extensions to the point products. (Think enhanced features for users of the new “business suite”). In passing, one executive commented that the teams reminded him a bit of the “Twelve Tribes of Israel, each wandering through the desert in search of their own piece of the promised land.”

This was reminiscent of my time at Rational Software, where after we had acquired a number of products (ex: RequisitePro, ClearCase) and built some new ones from scratch (ex: ClearQuest), our business problem moved from being point product focused to an emphasis on the suite (Rational Suite). Over a year or two, we were able to successfully address this problem by

  1. building a more effective, aggregate product management function, and
  2. implementing our version of an early Agile Release Train, which synchronized delivery of all products to the market under a common schedule and common installer.

When I started working with agile at scale in 2004-5 or so, I used that experience to further develop the principles of the Agile Release Train, which became the topic of Chapter 18: Systems of Systems and the Agile Release Train. I’ve depended on these principles and the adjunct, Release Planning, in virtually all my work at scale. But it also occurred to me that while the Agile Release Train is assumed in the Big Picture series, I hadn’t really called it, or its benefits, out as first class citizens in this blog. To remedy this, I’ve converted Chapter 18 to a free whitepaper in PDF format, which you can download from the link to your left, or from the resource page.

If you recognize the twelve tribes of Israel metaphor, (+/- your number of tribes of course!), you might find the whitepaper to be useful.

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