Author: Georgie Howard, Head of Support & Operations, Silverbear
Planning for sprint releases and what we’ve learned in 2021 from working with our clients
What is a sprint
If you are a Silverbear Dynamics 365 customer, you’ll probably be familiar with the Silverbear term ‘Sprint release’. For those that aren’t, Silverbear undertakes development in a fortnightly cycle called a ‘sprint’ which produces a deployable update to the Silverbear 365 product across all our modules and contains enhancements, new features, and bug fixes.
Planning for a sprint
The Silverbear sprint release cycle is different to a hotfix or customer development cycle. Sprints are deployed to customer UAT environments first to allow both Silverbear and the customer to complete QA testing. While this sprint is being tested in the UAT, the development environment and production environment remain in line with the existing live system, which allows Silverbear to continue to support BAU activities during your testing and signoff.
How to achieve sprint success
The success of a sprint release can be measured in many ways, including the time taken to deploy, the volume of changes, and the error rate from testing. Each BAU sprint deployment is owned and managed by a member of the Silverbear support team and tracked via a support ticket. The support team will work with you to arrange the deployment, advise on testing, and resolve any issues reported during testing to achieve sign-off of the deployment to the production environment.
During 2021 we have continued to learn several things about what makes a sprint deployment successful, especially in a cloud-based system like Silverbear 365:
Engagement and willingness to accept system change – Taking sprint deployments twice a year helps to reduce the amount of change that is being consumed and tested at any one time. Silverbear supplies detailed release notes of changes that should be reviewed and form part of any customer’s testing process.
Sprint deployment checklist – We have found that customers that maintain a sprint deployment checklist, highlight business-critical areas, and undertake key smoke tests following a deployment achieve greater success and reduced error rates. Silverbear can work with you to build out this checklist for future sprint deployments.
Calendar for key business dates – An annual calendar noting key business dates i.e., membership renewals, direct debit milestones, communication pushes, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 wave releases goes a long way to helping understand and plan when sprint deployments can be released to your environment to reduce the impact on the business and users. This also allows you to book out internal testing resources required to test and sign off the sprint deployment.
Sprints & Waves
Silverbear recommended that customers align their sprint deployments with the new features being released with Microsoft’s twice a year release cycle, called “wave releases”. These normally take place every April and October. More information on enhancements and features in the latest wave release (2021 Wave 2) can be found here.
Silverbear will work with your ahead of each Microsoft Wave release to ensure you take a Silverbear product sprint to a version of Silverbear that has been fully tested against the latest version of the platform. This will enable us to deliver sprint updates before Microsoft starts its regional deployments for Wave.
Additional Information & Resources
For more information on sprint updates, release notes, MS Wave releases, and timeline, please see our newly updated Silverbear customer portal, which will provide you with the most up-to-date information in a single place.
You can also contact our Support Team if you have any questions regarding sprint deployments including scheduling in sprint deployments for your system.