The Battle for the Right Features – The Art and Science of Product Release Planning


June 24, 2010


Günther Ruhe


University of Calgary


Features are the selling units of a product. There are a number of difficult decisions to be made in the context of product release planning and re-planning. Are the key features expected from the different groups of customer’s part of the next releases? Are the features provided the ones really expected? How many features constitute a good product release? How to utilize my development and other resources in a best possible way coming as close as possible to customer expectations? Is re-planning recommended? If “yes”, when and to what extend?

This talk discusses processes, methods and their implementation to support product managers in their product release decisions. The proposed solution approach aims at a combination of formality and rigor (called Science) with the intuition and expertise of the human decision maker (called Art). Stakeholder participation is a key component of this process. The principle of diversification is applied to facilitate their involvement in decision-making. The whole approach has been implemented in a decision support system called ReleasePlanner™. Practical experience from its application is reported.


Günther Ruhe

Günther Ruhe holds an Industrial Research Chair in Software Engineering at the University of Calgary. His interdisciplinary research in the areas of product release planning and project management includes mathematical optimization, software measurement, process modeling and simulation as well as empirical methods. He received a doctorate degree in Mathematics with emphasis on Operations Research from Freiberg University, Germany and a doctorate degree in Computer Science from University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. From 1996 until 2001, he was deputy director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering in Germany.

Ruhe has published more than 160 reviewed research papers at journals, workshops and conferences. He is the Associate Editor of the IST journal and a member of the Editorial Board of a number of journals. He has recently published a book “Product Release Planning – Methods, Tools and Applications”. He is a member of the ACM, the IEEE Computer Society, and the Informatics Society GI in Germany.