Introduction to releases and schedules

Whether it's a product launch, new client implementation, or a marketing campaign, your team's success often depends on your ability to prioritize your work, coordinate with other teams, and deliver on time. Releases in Aha! help you do just that. 

Releases, also called "schedules" in some Aha! workspace types, are built around a release date. This is more than just the day when implementation ends. Think of it from your customer's perspective: the release date is the date when they will have a new experience of your product, program, or service. 

Note: Depending on your workspace type, this article may refer to Aha! record types differently than your team does. 

Click any of these links to skip ahead:

Create a release

Navigate to the Releases section of Aha! to get started. By default, you will open the Releases > Gantt page, which shows you a Gantt chart view of any existing releases. Gantt charts make it easy to visualize dependencies and manage dates, so most release management happens on this page.

Click Add release to create a release. 

Note: You can also create a release from the Features > Board page, if you want to start adding features from a parking lot immediately.

New_Gantt_chart.png

  • The Release name is the name of your release.
  • You can choose to Create a new release or Copy an existing release
  • Choose the workspace where you want to Add new release to
  • Select a Release date. This is the date when every item in your release should be complete. You can create release phases or milestones for important stages in the release later. 
  • If you have enabled capacity planning, choose how you want to track the progress of your release, in hours or story points. 
  • Use the Theme field to enter a description of your release. 
  • Select a release Owner. This user will receive notifications about everything happening in the release.
  • Select a Release template, if you are using one. You can create a release template elsewhere. 

When you have added all the necessary details, click Create release. You will see it appear on the Gantt chart (and as a column on your Features > Board). By default, the Start date for a release is one month before its Release date. You can always adjust this if you need to.

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Create release templates

If your releases have a consistent set of release phases, you can create release templates that apply either to just your workspace or to all workspaces under a parent line. You will need to have owner permissions to create a release template. 

To create a template, start by navigating to the parent line or workspace that will be using your release templates. Use the Settings ⚙️icon to navigate to either Settings ⚙️> Parent line > Release phases and milestones or Settings ⚙️> Workspace > Release phases and milestones

Create one or more release templates that include phases and milestones that are appropriate for different types of releases (e.g. SaaS vs. on-premise, beta vs. GA, major vs. minor releases). While creating phases and milestones for your template, you can also add to-dos, which help you to ensure that the various cross-functional tasks defined throughout your template are easily repeatable with each new release — set the number of days in between phases and define dependencies between your phases and milestones. 

When you add new releases, you can choose from the following release phase template options:

  • Default: A simple template provided by Aha! to help get you started.
  • A custom template: Any template that you created for the parent line or workspace.
  • No template: Choose to create a release and enter all of the phases and milestones manually.

You can also apply a new release template to an existing release. There are two options when doing so: keep all existing phases and milestones and add the ones from your new template or delete all existing phases and milestones and replace them with the ones from your new template.

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Add features, phases and milestones

Now that you have a release, you will want to add features to it and structure it with release phases.

Features and master features represent the work that you will complete in your release. Release phases help you structure the flow of your release and come in two types: phases and milestones.

  • Phases are containers of work within your release — you may have design, development, and test phases, for example, and you can group features within phases.
  • Milestones are single important dates to your project — such as the date that design is completed or the date that the app store approves your mobile application.

Both types of release phases are optional. Add them if your release involves a lot of cross-functional dependencies or if they're helpful for organizing your release.

Use these steps to add records to your release: 

  • If you want to drag and drop features or master features into a release, navigate to Features > Board and open the parking lot slider. Drag feature or master feature cards from the parking lot to your release.
  • If you want to add features individually or structure release phases and milestones, click on your release in the Releases > Gantt view to open its detail drawer. From here, click Add featureAdd phase, or Add milestone. Edit the details of each after you add them.
  • If you know exactly where you want to add a record to your release, expand your release on the left side of the Gantt view, then click the icon between the two records where your new record should appear. From there, you can add a New featureExisting feature (one that has been hidden from the Gantt view), a Milestone, or a Phase.

Note: You can also use the icon that appears alongside a phase name to add New or Existing features directly to the phase.  

You can adjust the dates of features, phases, and milestones by editing the record — opening up the record and changing its Start and End dates — or by clicking and dragging them around the Gantt view to the dates you prefer. You can also click and drag one end of a feature, phase, or milestone to edit just its Start or just its End date. Any time you adjust the dates of a record by moving them on the Gantt view, you will see a tooltip showing the exact date(s) you are moving them to. 

All features will be visible on the Gantt chart by default — even if they do not have Start and End dates. This way, you can organize them in the context of the rest of the release before assigning them dates. Features without dates will appear at the start of a release but with hazy bar borders.

aha-gantt-no-dates-feature.png

Assign dates to a feature by clicking and dragging its bar on the Gantt view or by clicking on it to open the feature detail drawer. You can also hide the feature from the Gantt view by clicking the More options button beside the feature's name and selecting Remove from Gantt.  

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Create dependencies between features, milestones, and phases

Even in the most agile teams, there are times when one activity can't start until the preceding one ends. You might need to complete a design phase before development can start. Or you may need to have an introductory call with a client before you can start work on their project. Aha! supports finish-to-start dependencies between features, phases, and milestones — both within a release and across releases and workspaces.

To create a dependency in your release, hover over a bar, then click and drag the ball icon that appears next to the dependent bar.

  • If the dependent bar is in the future, the dependency line will be grey. If the dependent bar is in the past — or if the dates slip on the bar it depends on — the dependency line will turn red
  • If you have dependent bars and move the parent record, you will need to move the child records manually. This is because child records can have date ranges independent of parent records. 

aha-gantt-feature-dependencies.png

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Customize the Gantt view

You can further customize the Gantt view to focus on critical elements of your plan. 

From the top of the Gantt page: 

  • Use the filters on top to show or hide different date ranges, workspaces, releases, or shipped releases. If you hover over the filters bar, you can click the Add filters + icon to add basic filters, or click the Edit filters icon to add advanced filters
    Note: You can also add the Release settings dropdown as a filter on many roadmaps and reports, where it will allow you to show or hide parking lots and shipped releases. 
  • Use the Releases / Master features toggle to group features by release or by master feature. 
  • Use the Customize view ⚙️icon to customize the Gantt layout, including whether to display weekends and assignees or whether you want to color the Gantt bars or show progress on your Gantt. 

From the lefthand side of the page: 

  • Click the More options icon beside any release to:
    • Sort phases and milestones by their Start datesEnd dates, or Alphabetically. This changes the view for you but not for other people who view the release. To share your view with other people, click Save in the upper-right corner of the page.
    • Sort features by Rank (their rank on the Features > Board), Start dateEnd date, or Alphabetically. Sorting features on the Gantt view does not affect their sort order in the Features > Board view, and does not change the view for other people who view the release. To share your view with other people, click Save in the upper right corner of the page.
  • Click the More options button beside any release or phase to Align the release or the phase with its visible children. This is useful if you want your release to start with the Start date of your first feature, and finish with the End date of your last feature.  
  • Click the More options button beside any feature to Remove from Gantt. This will hide the feature from the Gantt view without removing it from the release. You can click the + icon and Add existing feature to show the hidden feature again.  

From the Gantt chart:

  • Click and drag to manually re-sort the order of any feature, master feature, release, release phase, or milestone. If a record has child records, it needs to be collapsed before you can move it. 

From the Releases > Detail page:

  • Add or remove phases and milestones according to the unique needs of your release. Select the release to bring out the release detail drawer (or go to Releases > Detail). To remove phases or milestones, hover over the desired one and click the x icon to the right. To add, click the Add Phase or Add Milestone buttons. 
    Note: The Releases > Detail view is hidden for new Aha! accounts. If you would like to enable it, you can do so by customizing your menu navigation

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Group features by master feature

You can use master features to manage groups of features that share a common theme. Features can be linked to both master features and releases, so it can be helpful to visualize master features in a Gantt view, and how they will be delivered through releases. 

New_Gantt_Master_Features_view.png

To show master features on the Gantt chart, click the Master features button at the top of the page. You can customize this view just as you can the releases view, including the ability to add dependencies between features and master features. 

There are two differences to note: 

  • You can choose to color the bars by Workspace or Release as well as StatusAssignee, and Type
  • You can see a new field at the top of the Gantt view called Release names. Click this to see the Release dates of the releases in the date range you have chosen. 

Both features and master features without dates appear in the master features view as well. Features will appear at the start of a master feature with those same hazy borders to their bars. Master features will span the width of the timeline with hazy borders on their bars. You can add dates to dateless records or select the More options button next to the feature and select Remove from Gantt to hide it.

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Copy an existing release to a new release

When creating a new release, there are instances when it is desirable to copy all phases, milestones, features, dependencies, and to-dos from an existing release. Choosing to copy a release differs from selecting a release phase template for a new release in that a copy already includes the features and dependencies.

This option is most applicable for companies that reuse a set of features that need to get done as part of every release. A common practice is to create a release to serve as a template that contains not only phases, milestones, and dependencies but also a company standard set of release/launch "work tasks" modeled as features. 

Upon creating a new release, you can choose Create new release or Copy existing release. The existing release can come from any workspace and across parent lines. 

You can also copy any existing release from its More options menu. Copying a release will copy all the features and phases contained in that release, as well.

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Share a release

Plans are made to be shared. Once you have customized your release, it is time to share it with the people it affects. Tie the work to people by assigning records, creating to-dos, adding watchers, or @mentioning Aha! users in comments. You can share your release with other stakeholders by selecting one of the export options under the Share menu on the top-right of the page.

  • To fold your release into a presentation, select Add to presentation. In your presentation, you can select the release's update frequency. 
  • To invite people outside of your Aha! account to view your release, select Share as webpage
  • For a static version of your release, export your release to PNG image or PDF document

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