Release Management

productivity

#1

How are teams using Asana for Release Management? It seems like Jira is much more mature in this area. Here are some ideas we’re playing with:

  1. Setup a Release Project and tag all associated tasks with that project. We’d set dates for when the release is to be code locked, qa’d, and released which would be communicated in standups and kept on a central calendar. Problem with this is that we already have a lot of projects being tagged so it could be a little hard to read, but we’d have a central place to look for all of the associated tasks and we could set it up with release mgmt swimlanes (dev/stage/prod).

  2. If releases are associated with sprints we could add release mgmt swimlanes to the sprint project (dev/stage/prod). The problem there is what do we do when a release isn’t associated with a sprint like a hotfix?

  3. Add a custom field for release numbers and set up searches for each release. Some problems with this is that everyone has to recreate the same search and then there isn’t a central place that does a good job at visualizing where tasks are in the process.

  4. We create custom fields for release numbers and release status (dev/stage/prod) that have to be set and updated. Problems are it’s manual to update status and no central central repository, but we may combine this w/ either 1 or 2.

  5. Create a release task that all associate tasks are dependent on. None of the dependents can be closed until until the release is approved and the main task is closed. Problem is that you can’t see all the tasks dependent on a task only what each task is dependent on. Could potentially setup a search for tasks dependent on X.

Would love to hear how other teams are solving for this.


#2

Here’s how we at Dossier use Asana for release management–I am the head of the product, engineering and ops teams for our SaaS company, and our engineers collaborate with the product/designers and customer service teams on every release.

Context: our team at Dossier, a SaaS work collaboration company in San Francisco, has been using Asana for 5 years (I brought Asana into our prev company Dynatrace, it’s been 8 years for me).

  • Asana add-on for email automation: Dossier is an Asana add-on that syncs customer, vendor, partner and shared mailbox emails into Asana, so you can track, manage and respond in Asana.
  • Release Management in Asana: the product, engineering and customer service teams collaborate on software releases.
  • Customer Service in Slack: our customer service team manages all customer emails and website chats in Slack and escalates into Asana, replying to customers from Asana directly.

Without Asana, we would be in so many meetings, it’s an incredible time saver. We were very impressed with Justin’s vision to “track everything in Asana”, expressed 4 years ago, and made possible by the Asana product team that added new features like Custom Fields and Timelines. Well, these may not be new any more, yet we remember clearly how they made our work remarkably efficient, within months of our using it.

For our Product team, we break tasks down into mostly non-overlapping projects like Features, Bugs, System, QA, etc. There’s a special project called Current Release, which I’ll highlight later.

Within each project, we categorize each task using Custom Fields, which help us know, at a glance why a task is important. Here’s a snapshot of tasks that have to do with auto-syncing emails to Asana.

Using Timelines, we can visually see what features we are personally working on, when they’re due or being delivered. The product team is omniscient and all-knowing, and they don’t need to ask me/our engineers questions.

The Current Release project gives management a birds-eye view of everything that is open, and what’s completed. This is what our release for this week looks like:

We’ve all worked in teams where JIRA was considered the gold standard for release management. And yet we have felt that Asana is very good for release management, though I don’t think the Asana team has really designed Asana specifically for that use case. We’re happy to go into why, if they ask, the deficiencies have to do with sharing reports across the team (note some of the custom reports we created, in the picture, above).

We do sync the communications 5 different teams have with customers, and bring customer emails and website chats into Slack and Asana, so that we can bring the customer feedback into release planning and beta programs. So I can’t say that Asana would be sufficient, all by itself, for release management, but it does very well for us, and eliminates the need for JIRA as well. Interested to hear the perspective of other product teams.

I’m curious that no one else responded to this post. Is our use of Asana for release management unique? More likely, product teams are too busy to post. I should get back to work!

Vik Chaudhary, Dossier
Video: Using Asana to Organize Customer Conversations