Releases represent the big ideas that you bring to customers (internal or external) as well as your market. A release does not just involve access to new functionality -- it is the date when a company is ready to deliver a new customer experience. This involves supporting every customer interaction point associated with this new experience.
It takes a cross-functional team to successfully communicate value and support users when you ship a release. Folks on this team take ownership over key efforts within their organization. A typical team is led by product, and includes leaders from program management, sales, support, ops, and marketing. This team should meet weekly, have strong authority, and own all aspects of a release. This includes any required internal communications and trainings.
To keep everyone in sync, it's important to track all of the technical and non-technical work in one place. How many times have you found that a date has passed and most of your organization has no clue? Automatic team notifications -- and a consistent template of phases and milestones for each new release -- help hold teams accountable.
Hopefully, it’s clear that a release involves everything that impacts a customer or user. It starts with new technology, then carries on through every interaction. The key is to start from the perspective of your customer, and prioritize releases that will offer the most value.