Release Notes

Putting People First: The Human Touch in Release Notes

Introduction

In the vast sea of software development, the spotlight is always on the features and functionality. However, in the recent times there are growing calls to bring the spotlight back to its true heroes: the people.
Release notes or changelogs, where you will see a list of bug fixes and feature updates, are evolving into a forum for celebration. To celebrate the contributions of those who make the software what it is. In this article, we will explore the importance of humanizing release notes by highlighting the individuals behind the progress.

The Human Element in Software Development

Behind all the fancy terms of Agile, Scrum, Kanban & Velocity, at the heart of every software update, new feature, or bug fix, there are people. Be it developers, testers, product managers, or users. These people contribute not just their skills and knowledge, but their passion and creativity. Recognizing these contributions in your release notes is more than a gesture of appreciation; it’s a statement of your company’s values and a nod to the collaborative spirit of software development.

Why Celebrate Contributions?

The Power of Celebrating Contributions
  • Acknowledgment and Motivation: Well first of all, it is about acknowledging efforts of your team. That is the simplest form of recognition. Simply call out your colleagues by name or high five users whose suggestions led to improvements. It will inevitably lead to a sense of belonging and recognition. At a minimum, this will be a powerful motivator & will encourage long term innovation.
  • Building Trust and Transparency: For the users of your software, when they see real names of people & their stories behind the changes to the software they use, it builds trust – almost immediately. They will know how your company’s culture is resting on transparency and how you listen to people involved.
  • Fostering Community and Collaboration: Highlighting contributions is a crucial aspect of community building. So, you are taking the release notes from merely an announcement document into an active community building asset. This shows that your product’s development is a collaborative effort resulting in more users & team members feeling invited to contribute their ideas and feedback.

Incorporating People into Release Notes

  • Team Acknowledgments: Take the easy step first. Start by naming the team members who played key roles in the development of new features or the resolution of issues. A simple “Thanks to [Name] for their work on [Feature]” can make a significant impact.
  • User Contributions: If a customer idea was turned into an enhancement, mention it. “Based on the suggestion by [User Name], we’ve introduced [Feature].” It will have twice the impact by giving the credit where its due & then encouraging more users to share their inputs.
  • Stories Behind the Code: Listen carefully & your team will always have stories to tell. Whenever possible, share such stories or insights into your team’s development process. These ‘stories’ could range from the challenges overcome to hacks devised, or how user feedback moulded the final outcome.

Say Hi to ‘Users’ in Automated Release Notes for Jira

Recently, we have launched an enhancement in our popular app for Jira Automated Release Notes. It allows you to configure ‘Users’ in your release notes templates. These users could be assignees or reporters from Jira tickets or even a user list from custom field on select Jira issues. We are just getting started & we intend to make the release notes more people centric for our customers.

Best Practices for Humanizing Release Notes

Best Practices for Humanizing Release Notes
  • Be Consistent: Make shout outs to team mates & users a regular feature of your release notes. This will establish continuity and expectation into your audience’s minds.
  • Be Inclusive: Be careful that all types of contributions are recognized. Right from coding to user feedback. This will mean everyone’s efforts are celebrated with equal zeal.
  • Be Genuine: Include user avatars, or their Github/LinkedIn profiles to personalize the acknowledgments as much as possible. Repeated generic thank-you can sometimes feel impersonal.

Conclusion

While we continue to stretch the boundaries of what’s possible with software, let’s not forget the people who make it all happen. By putting people at the centre of release notes, we not only celebrate their contributions but also reinforce the collaborative essence of technology development. This approach doesn’t just humanize the product; it enriches the entire ecosystem surrounding it, creating a culture of appreciation, motivation, and continuous feedback.


Remember, behind every line of code, there’s a story, a face, and the individual’s passion & creativity. Make a small effort & ensure our release notes reflect not just what we’ve built, but who has built it and whom we’re building it for.

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