It's important to have a formal process to manage the release of a software update so that it can be successfully communicated to those who want to use it. In this process we consider all the steps when releasing a new software version, including communications and testing.
1Plan the release
Ideally this would be planned in advance, and this information shared with the necessary people.
2Collect information about what has changed in this release
You can use the attached template - either a new document per release or one document that's continually updated.
You may need to do this as the features are being developed to make sure you don't forget anything. If you use a tool to manage your software development, this might have releases built in (e.g. JIRA).
Include company facing changes as well as user facing ones.
3Communicate what will change & when deployment is
The earlier you communicate what the release includes and when it's planned for, the better.
Consider informing: Sales, Marketing, Customer Support/Success, CEO/Senior Management, Other Key stakeholders. Don't forget to tell your development/deployment team either!
3.1Consider communications to customers
Communications to customers is important when existing design/behaviour is going to change. It's also a chance to promote any new features or improvements.
This is most likely going to be a Marketing/Customer Support led activity, but supported by the Product team.
3.2Consider communications to leads/prospects
Does the release contain any new features/changes that would be attractive to your leads or prospects? If it's something that your known leads have been asking for, it's good to plan to let them know once the release has gone live.
4Confirm testing has been completed
Ensure that the release has been adequately tested on a test environment, and that there is evidence of this. You may want to upload the test results (or a link to them) here.
Include any server changes or database migrations. Ideally choose a time where it will affect the least number of users.
6Notify people that deployment has happened
It's a good idea to notify the relevant people that the update has happened, with any details (e.g. were there any problems, link to information about what has changed). Setting up an email group or a room within your messaging platform might be useful for this.
7Test live system
It's worth testing the live system to ensure everything is working as expected (manual testing is good for this). Cover the main journeys through your product e.g. sign up, payments etc.
8Update any collateral
e.g. support documents, screenshots, blog articles.
9Give demo of new release to key stakeholders
If there is time, for the bigger releases especially it could be an idea to give a demo of your product to the key stakeholders. This is also an opportunity to gain usability feedback from them, as well as an opportunity for them to answer any questions they may have.
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