Most people are familiar with release notes that appear in app stores—they describe features and bug fixes contained in each release. While these release notes speak to users, they aren’t particularly helpful for internal stakeholders that have different needs.
Internal release notes are designed to help keep your teams in the loop with each release.
Let’s take a look at why internal release notes are important, how to create them and some best practices to keep in mind along the way.
What Are Internal Release Notes?
Internal release notes are a critical tool for improving communication within your team.
Internal stakeholders and end users have very different information requirements. For example, an external release note may highlight a new user workflow in a single bullet point, but the support team needs to know how it works in order to support users and the marketing team needs to know how the user benefits from the new feature.
Internal release documents often include:
- Screenshots or Videos: Screenshots or videos can show where new features are located and how they work in practice. For example, you may want to show the support team how a new user workflow works.
- Links to Internal Tools: Links to Jira issues or Trello cards provide more information for internal stakeholders to understand changes. For example, you might link to a feature request on a Trello board for marketing to reach out to the original requestors.
- Technical Information: Product teams may require technical insights into the changes, such as new dependencies or regressions. Of course, you can link to more detailed information in Jira or other sources, but it should be easy to access.
Example of Internal Release Notes on Teamwork – Source: Teamwork
The goal of internal release notes is to improve communication and keep everyone on the same page. Rather than having large meetings to discuss changes, internal release logs provide a single source of truth for anyone that needs to know what has changed. These dynamics can improve productivity for both technical and business teams.
How to Create Internal Release Notes
Many development teams push out release notes with little thought. For example, Facebook and many large tech companies rarely write more than a sentence or two. The best release notes are carefully crafted to convey the benefits to the user in order to promote usage of the new features and ultimately improve user retention.
Internal release logs can be built in much the same way:
- Identify the target audiences. Internal release notes should be organized based on what the target audience needs to know. Support teams require different information than marketing or development teams.
- Create the release notes. Product managers may choose to use anything from Google Docs to custom-built tools to create release notes. When writing them, it’s important to think through what’s important for each target audience.
- Configure and send them. Release notes should be sent on a regular schedule to each internal stakeholder group. In addition, they should be sent in a format that’s ideal for each audience (e.g., email, PDF, HTML, JSON, etc.).
Automated Release Notes for Jira – Source: Amoeboids
Amoeboids’ Automated Release Notes for Jira helps pull together release notes from Jira issues for multiple audiences and send them in customized formats. By automating the entire process, product managers can focus on what matters without getting bogged down in the process of gathering data and configuring file formats.
Best Practices to Keep in Mind
Writing internal and external release notes can take a lot of time—especially when you’re thoughtfully preparing them for different audiences. Fortunately, there are several best practices that you can use to streamline the process and efficiently create release notes for every audience, and ultimately, improve team communication.
Some best practices to keep in mind include:
- Automate: Automation, using tools like ARN, can help eliminate a lot of the grunt work associated with preparing both internal and external release notes. That way, you have more time to focus on what matters in improving communication.
- Organize: Organization is essential if you’re sharing release notes in one large document. For instance, you can color code each point based on the audience and ensure that you’re listing changes from most to least important.
- Engage: Engagement is important to realize the value of internal release notes. By formalizing meetings, you can ensure that release notes are effectively shared across the team and provide the maximum benefit.
Automated Release Notes for Jira can also help with many of these best practices by automating a lot of the busy work, relying on existing Jira issues for organization and providing convenient tools to engage the right audience with the right avenues. In addition to internal release notes, ARN can help organize your external release notes targeting end users.
The Bottom Line
Most people are familiar with release notes on app stores, but internal release notes are equally important to ensure that everyone is on the same page. By establishing a process and keeping some best practices in mind, you can improve productivity across your team and ensure that everyone is communicating well throughout the development cycle.