This article refers to releases and features. Depending on your workspace type, you may see "schedules" and “activities" in your workspace.
Aha! Roadmaps | Introduction to releases
"Are we on track?" It is a simple question that most product managers hear daily. But often there is no simple answer. Progress updates for a cross-functional release might require multiple meetings, reports, emails, and manual data analyses before you can arrive at a confident answer.
You want to deliver functionality that your customers love. Releases are containers for lovable work — the result of careful strategic planning, idea management, and ambitious collaboration with highly talented teammates. Release management makes sure you can launch that lovable work on time, every time.
In this article, we will walk through how you can create, manage, and analyze a release in Aha! Roadmaps.
Click any of these links to skip ahead:
Create a release
Navigate to the Releases section of Aha! Roadmaps 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.
You can also create a release from the Features Board page, if you want to start adding features from a parking lot immediately.
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.
Release dates are not associated with a timezone.
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.
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 workspace line. You will need to have owner permissions to create a release template.
To create a template, start by navigating to the workspace line or workspace that will be using your release templates. Then navigate to either Settings ⚙️ Workspace 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.
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 workspace line by navigating to Settings ⚙️ Workspace 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 workspace 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.
Set a default Gantt view
The best saved views drive consistency across your team — or your entire organization. Workspace owners can set default views at the workspace or workspace line levels, so that everyone is using the agreed upon standard. To set defaults more broadly, you can set them at the workspace line level, so that child workspaces can inherit the defaults.
To set a default view, first Save one. Then navigate to Settings ⚙️ Workspace Default views and configure your new default.
A user will see your default view if they do not already have a working copy of a view on that page, or if they click Views Reset to default view.
If you update your default view and Save it again, that update will be reflected for anyone who views the default.
Organize customer research
To define exactly what your customers want, you need to be able to gather all of your research — including customer interview notes, related ideas, and polls — in one place. The Research tab (included on all features, epics, releases, and initiatives) brings all this information together.
You may need to click the More options button to view the Research tab. You can customize your record layout to change the tabs' order.
This tab is organized into three sections.
Use the Concept section to link related notes and whiteboards, making it easy to find customer interviews, market research, user flow diagrams, and more.
Under Ideas, you can view promoted ideas, as well as any other requests that are useful to reference.
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, and add custom fields to either type to help specify the type of information they display.
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.
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.
Start and End dates are not associated with a timezone.
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.
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.
Click on a feature, phase, or milestone from the Gantt chart to open its drawer view. From the drawer, you can also click the Details button to go to the details view for that record. The details page displays one record at a time, allowing you to see every detail at a glance. There is also a collapsible sidebar on the left that includes a list of all the same record types within the same release. Sort phases and milestones by start date, end date, and name. You can view and switch between all of your phases and milestones within a release, so you can seamlessly coordinate all the cross-functional work that needs to come together for a successful launch.
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 Date range 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.
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! Roadmaps 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.
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! Roadmaps 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.
Do you want to analyze this data, or visualize it in a custom roadmap? Use the [Record type] record links and Linked [record type] tables to visualize and analyze linked records.
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 Gantt type toggle to to choose the record types you want to visualize on your Gantt chart:
Releases, phases, and features: Show features in the context of releases and release phases.
Releases, epics, and features: Show features together with their releases and epics, including epics not part of the features' releases.
Epics and features: Show features in the context of their epics, with an expandable section that includes the features' Release names.
Use the Customize view ⚙️ dropdown to customize your Gantt layout.
Customize view: Choose whether to display weekends, assignees, progress, or the progress chart beside each release.
Color bars by: Choose whether you want to color the Gantt bars by Status, Assignee, record Type, or (for Epics and features Gantts) Release.
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! Roadmaps 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.
Manage dependencies: Choose whether to show or hide the connector lines that indicate dependencies, and enable or disable the Other dependency sections for each release or epic. Note: You can also configure connector lines for individual records by clicking the More options menu beside the record name.
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.
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.
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! Roadmaps 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 phase, feature, or milestone to:
Edit record details. This will open up that record's drawer view.
Hide connector lines. This will hide (or show) the lines that indicate dependencies.
Features have an additional option in this menu: the option to Remove from Gantt. This will hide the element 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.
The Releases Details view is hidden for new Aha! Roadmaps accounts. If you would like to enable it, you can do so by customizing your menu navigation.
Visualize cross-team dependencies
If your plans extend across releases — or across workspaces — you may want to focus on cross-team dependencies without expanding every item on the Gantt chart. To do this, use the Other dependencies section of the Gantt. This section shows any dependencies that affect a given release or epic and are not otherwise visible on the Gantt chart.
The Other dependencies section currently shows incoming dependencies — anything that your release or epic depends on to complete successfully. It does not yet show outgoing dependencies — anything that depends on your release or epic.
Configure dependencies in the Gantt chart by clicking Customize view ⚙️ Manage dependencies. From here, show or hide the connector lines that indicate dependencies, and enable or disable the Other dependency sections for each release or epic.
Use the left-side arrows to expand or collapse releases, release phases, and epics. Any incoming dependencies between an expanded and a collapsed element will be visible in the Other dependencies section of the Gantt.
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.
There are two ways to visualize epics on the Gantt chart.
To view a Gantt where the primary relationship is between epics and their features, open the Gantt type dropdown and select Epics and features. 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.
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.
You can sort epics by their Aha! Roadmaps Score in addition to their Start date, End date, or Name. Note: If the data you sorted by changes over time (or if you drag the 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.
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 hide features without dates from the Gantt — choose the More options button next to an epic to Hide all features with no dates, or the More options next to an individual feature to Remove from Gantt. To display the feature again, click the More options button beside the epic and select Show hidden feature.
To view a Gantt where you can visualize features together with their releases and epics, open the Gantt type dropdown and select Releases, epics, and features. This Gantt chart will features within their releases, and any epics associated with those features, even if the epics are not part of the features' release. This option is useful for a comprehensive view of your product plans.
As with the releases Gantt and the epics Gantt, you can customize the comprehensive Gantt to include the information that helps it communicate most effectively. Features, epics, and releases without Start or End dates will appear on this Gantt with hazy borders to indicate missing dates. You can add dates to dateless records, or hide features without dates from the Gantt — choose the More options button next to a release to Hide all features with no dates, or the More options next to an individual feature to Remove from Gantt. To display the feature again, click the More options button beside the epic and select Show hidden feature.
Manage releases and epics
The Releases tab in your navigation includes four 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.
Retrospective: The retrospective report for past releases.
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.
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 release retrospective report for a specific release.
Calendar: The calendar view of your work.
The Change view type dropdown converts your report to a new report, so changing from Gantt to Calendar and back will result in some missing customizations.
Copy an existing 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 workspace lines. Choose to Copy existing release.
You can also copy any existing release by clicking the More options button. Copying a release will copy all the features and phases contained in that release, as well.
Complete a release
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.
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! Roadmaps will send notifications to all watchers on your release once the release ships.
Note: If you do not have a status category of Shipped in your release workflow, shipping the release will revert the release to the first status in the category Not started.
Once a release is shipped, you can't modify it. However, you can unship a release 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
View the release retrospective report
Compare your plans with what actually happened on a one-page summary. The release retrospective report includes a burndown chart of your team's progress, performance statistics, and details of every record change during the release — all tailored for your team's preferred way of visualizing effort.
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! Roadmaps 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 add your Gantt chart to a dashboard, select Add to dashboard. Dashboards combine several Aha! Roadmaps views into one page to tell a complete story about your plans and progress.
Be sure to click Save view in order to add your Gantt chart to a dashboard. If you would like to add a view of a release Gantt chart and a view of an epics Gantt chart to a dashboard, you will need to save each view separately.
To invite people outside of your Aha! Roadmaps account to view your release, select Share as webpage.
To schedule recurring email delivery of your release, select Schedule email delivery.
For a static version of your release, export your release to PNG image or PDF document.