What is the difference between a Sprint and a Release?
January 4, 2020
January 4, 2020
If you have a conversation with a development team you may hear the terms sprint and release used interchangeably at times. Often this is due to a poor understanding of what the software development life cycle is for the team they are on or the more academic definition of what an Agile methodology is and how sprints and releases work within that Agile world.
A release is the easier of the two terms to define as a release is the end of a development effort that will then go live in your production or live environment for your end users to start to see and use, hence it is called a release. Product owners who follow agile typically execute development in sprints which are small two to three week windows of completing development toward the completion of a specific feature. If the feature can be fully realized in that two to three weeks, when the sprint ends, it may be released to production and go live for users. However if the feature is bigger or requires more effort than can be completed in two to three weeks, than when the one sprint ends, the second sprint would begin to complete different parts of the feature. This will iterate over and over in two to three week sprints until the full feature is ready and then a release will occur.
The product owner will map out a release which can include one to many sprints to complete the features they want to have delivered in the release. Many teams complete one sprint, then do a release which works great if all of the features are small enough to support that software development life cycle. If you are working on a more complex effort however you may find you need more than 3 weeks to finish the effort in which case you would break the effort into two sprints and then define very specific goals that you want to complete within each sprint so that when they are both over, the release is ready to go.
Outside of agile development, if you are using a waterfall methodology for example, you may hear the terms more mixed in since 1 release will always be 1 sprint however specifically for agile development, there is a large distinction as agile focuses on iteratively delivering.