Who should write release notes for best results?

In one of our past articles, we’ve seen why release notes are important. They are vital because they offer you a form of communication. If properly managed, they have the potential of positively impacting satisfaction of involved parties. For example –

  • customers will be happy to know about the recent enhancements in the product they are using
  • internal QA team will be efficient due to proactive knowledge of deployed changes
  • executive team will look forward to the release overview
  • and the list goes on

According to the market of a product, audiences of different demographics will be involved. Thus the obvious question pops-up – who should be writing your release notes?

Who should write release notes?

You know the answer already – there’s no one size fits all approach here. A lot will depend on your product’s market, audience of the release notes etc. Below, we will talk about a few best practices surrounding this topic.

Some of the possibilities when it comes to writing release notes are

  • Developer
  • QA
  • Technical writer
  • Product manager
  • Marketer

But hold on, there is no single correct answer. If the release notes are meant for your customers, it doesn’t make sense for developers to write them. That is, unless your customers are tech savvy. Or if the release notes are for the executive team, it may not be ideal for a QA to write them.

Its important to recognise that a single piece of release notes cannot meet everyone’s needs. Thus, collaborating with multiple functions becomes a necessity.

Let us look at a few examples of release notes. (credit – why writing good release notes matters)

Generic release notes in the App Store

Slack communicating bugfixes

It is anyone’s guess that the slack release notes are more engaging (image 2).  Weaving a story surrounding the product upgrades is as much important as addressing any technical know how. Marketers can play equally important role as that of a product manager. And so does any other function that is a stakeholder in that release.

But how?

Doesn’t the release notes writing process become more bureaucratic with the above approach? After all how can we get multiple functions to collaborate efficiently on such a tiny task? Won’t people just keep it on the back-burner?

Here’s what you can do to address these issues –

  • Sensitise people on the importance of release notes
  • Help them understand how good release notes can result in efficient processes, time savings & engaged stakeholders
  • Document the release notes creation process
  • Assign responsibility to different stakeholders
  • Create multiple release notes templates that cater to different audiences
    • For example, if you are already using Automated release notes for Jira – it allows you to generate release notes from different issue fields in Jira. Thus, one can just create different issue fields to store release notes that are internal, external etc & then design the template for desired outcome.
  • Rather than asking everyone at the last minute to complete release notes, start the process early on. That way, pressure to get things done doesn’t result in poor quality.

Automate

Many project management tools nowadays come with release notes automation. That helps in reducing the manual interventions. And can result in beautifully designed, audience specific, personalised release notes.


Our recommendation – follow the scrum approach. Create cross-functional teams & make release notes publishing a part of the group responsibility.

Anand is on a mission to help organisations build winning teams.
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