Introduction to releases and schedules

Releases in Aha! help you prioritize your work, coordinate with other teams, and deliver on time. Each release is 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: This article refers to releases and features. Depending on your workspace type, you may see "schedules" and “activities" in your workspace.

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.

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  • 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. Then navigate to either Settings ⚙️ → Parent line → Release templates or Settings ⚙️ → Workspace → Release templates.

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.

Note: If you create a release from a template, its release phases' dates will be set to Enter manually.

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

  • Default: You can select the default release template for your workspace or parent line by navigating to Settings ⚙️ → Parent line → Release templates or Settings ⚙️ → Workspace → Release templates, hovering over a release template, and selecting Make default. The default you select will show up as the preselected option on the list of available Release phase templates with the name you have set.

  • A custom template: Any template that you created for your 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 by opening a release's detail view and selecting More options → Apply new release phase template. 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 epics 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 epics into a release, navigate to Features → Board and open the parking lot slider. Drag feature or epic 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 or drawer view. From here, click on the Phases tab, then Add phase or Add milestone for phases and milestones, or the Related tab, then Add epic or Add feature for epics and features. 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 feature, Existing 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 Date range — 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.

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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, then editing the Date range fields on the Overview tab. 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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Calculate release and release phase dates

Releases are containers for phases, milestones, epics, and features, while release phases are containers for features. If you choose, you can calculate a release or a release phase's Date range from its child phases and features.

To do this, open up a release or release phase's detail view, and select the appropriate calculation type from the Progress field on the Overview tab.

  • If a release or a release phase is set to calculate its dates from child records, and one of those records' dates change in a way that affects the release or the release phase's dates (even through an integration), the parent record's dates will update automatically.

    Note: If an integration updates a release's Date range, the calculation type will change back to Enter manually, and updates to child records' dates that you make in Aha! will not update the parent record.

  • If a release or a release phase is set to calculate its dates from child records, and there are no child records, its dates will remain blank.

  • You can always choose to set a release or release phase's dates to Enter manually.

  • If you create a release from a template, its release phases' dates will be set to Enter manually.

  • Workspace owners can set default record date settings by navigating to Settings ⚙️ → Workspace → Configure → Record dates.

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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.

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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 Releases / Epics toggle to group features by release or by epic.

  • Use the Customize view ⚙️ dropdown to customize your Gantt layout.

    • Customize view: Choose whether to display weekends, assignees, or progress.

    • Color bars by: Choose whether you want to color the Gantt bars by Status, Assignee, or record Type.

    • Sort releases by / Sort epics by: Releases and epics on your Gantt chart are sorted chronologically by their Start dates by default, but you may prefer a different sort order. Use this submenu to sort your releases or epics by Start date, End date, or Name. You can also sort releases by their Release date, and sort epics by their Aha! Score.

      Note: If the data you sorted by changes over time (or if you drag the releases or epics to create a custom sort order), your Gantt chart will not automatically re-sort itself. If you ever want to re-sort your data by one of these options, just reselect that option from this submenu.

  • Use the filters on top to show or hide different 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.

From the right side of the Gantt chart:

  • Use the Timeline menu to focus your Gantt chart on the right date range. Choose from Three-month, Six-month, or One-year views, or choose to Fit all of your data into one view. You can also choose to select a Custom date range. Your Gantt chart defaults to Fit when you first load it, and if you change any data, refreshing the page will zoom to Fit your data again.

  • Use the Zoom in and Zoom out magnifiers to further customize your timeline.

Note:

  • When you save and share a Gantt chart externally, the date range in the view you share will be what you selected in the Timeline menu. This lets you control what part of your roadmap you want people to see — you can focus their attention without sharing your entire roadmap.

  • When you save and share a Gantt chart with other Aha! users in your account, they will initially see the date range you selected. They can then use the Timeline menu to adjust the view.

From the left side of the Gantt chart:

  • Click the More options button beside any release to:

    • Sort phases and milestones by their Start dates, End 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 date, End 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 vertically to re-sort the order of any feature, epic, release, release phase, or milestone. If a record has child records, it needs to be collapsed before you can move it.

  • Click and drag horizontally to adjust the dates of any record on the Gantt chart. If the record has child records and is expanded, all child records will move with the parent record. If the record has child records and is collapsed, just the parent record will move.

From the Releases → Details 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 → Details), then select the Phases tab. 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 → Details 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 epic

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

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To show epics on the Gantt chart, click the Epics 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 epics. You can also sort epics alphabetically, as well as by start date, end date, or score.

There are two differences to note:

  • You can choose to color the bars by Workspace or Release as well as Status, Assignee, 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.

    Note: The Release names section will display releases linked to records visible on the Gantt chart. If you have expanded an epic to show its child features, then the Release names section will display all releases linked to that epic and its child features. If you collapse the epic to hide its child features, the Release names section will just display the release linked to the epic.

Both features and epics without dates appear in the epics view as well. Features will appear at the start of an epic with those same hazy borders to their bars. Epics 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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Manage releases and epics

The Releases tab in your navigation includes three different ways to manage your releases and epics. Depending on your workspace type, some of these are disabled until you customize your navigation to show them. The available pages are:

  • Gantt: The Gantt chart view we've focused on in this article. Remember, you can organize your work in this view by releases or by epics.

  • Calendar: A calendar-based view of your work. Calendars can be built around initiatives, releases, release phases, epics, features, and to-dos.

  • Details: The detail view of your release, where you can see the structure of your release at a glance.

To switch between your views, you can use the navigation bar at the top of the page. However, if you have used filters to focus your view, use the Change view type dropdown to switch between several common views while retaining any filters you have added yourself.

Note: Filters you add yourself will transfer to a new view. Page filters — filters associated with the original view that cannot be removed — will not appear on the new view.

Your View type options are:

  • Gantt: The Gantt chart view of your work.

  • Details: The details view of your work.

  • Progress: The burndown chart of a specific release.

  • Calendar: The calendar view of your work.

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Copy an existing release to a new release

Release templates help give your releases a consistent structure, but there are times when you may want to clone all of an existing release — not just its structure. Copying a release copies all of its phases, milestones, features, dependencies, and to-dos.

If your team completes the same work tasks in the same order each release, then copying a release saves you time by copying over all the work tasks you would normally have to recreate.

To do this, create a new release. In the Create release modal, you will have the option to Create new release or Copy existing release. The existing release can come from any workspace and across parent lines. Choose to Copy existing release.

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

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Ship a release / Work complete

A release is a container for work, so when you complete a release, it affects all the work items — the features and epics — that are part of the release.

Note: If you work in a product workspace, this is called Shipping the release. If you work in any other type of workspace, this is called Work complete.

Any time you ship a release, a few things happen:

  • Any feature or epic that has been completed will ship along with the release. Completed records have a status in the status categories Done or Shipped.

  • Any feature or epic that has been marked Will not do will ship along with the release. Records you do not plan to work on will have a status in the status category Will not do.

  • Any feature or epic with any other status will move to the next available release. The assumption is that these items are incomplete and that they still need to be completed.

  • When you ship a release, you will see a list of items that will move to the next release before you confirm that you want to ship the current release. If everything looks accurate, ship your release and the records will move to the next release. If you want to select the release the records should move to, choose one from the Release dropdown. If you have forgotten to update a record's status, click on it to change it.

  • If you choose to, Aha! will send notifications to all watchers on your release once the release ships.

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Once a release is shipped, you can't modify it. However, you can unship a release through by clicking the More options button on the release's details page if you need to edit the release again. Shipped releases are hidden in a number of views, but in most places, you can still access a shipped release if needed. Shipped releases (and sometimes their features and epics) can be seen or made visible on:

  • Releases → Gantt: Add them via Filter

  • Release → Details: Scroll left through previously shipped releases using the arrow at the top of your screen

  • Features → List: View shipped features

  • Roadmaps → Features: Add them via Choose releases

  • Roadmaps → Pivot: Choose past dates

  • Roadmaps → Portfolio: Visible by default

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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 through the Share button 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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