The Importance of Release Notes

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Scenario: A client once bought a product and while using the product found a defect. Very upset the client asked for explanations. The company selling the product had to release a patch to fix the issues. What the company learned? They need to deliver a document that specifies fixes from previous version. While time passed by, the marketing and sales department suggested that a release notes should also provide information regarding the new functionality; while operations engineers suggested they should also cover any installation and deployment information that was not discovered during the product documentation process.

Who is in charge of writing the Release Notes?

The person in charge of writing Release Notes differs from an organization to another, based on the internal organization chart and designated assignments. In some organizations, the person in charge of writing the Release Notes is the Technical Writer. You might wonder how is that possible? The technical writer already knows the new functionality as he/ she is in charge of updating product documentation. If the writer also has access to the issues reporting tool (e.g. Bugzilla, Jira, Rally, etc.) then he/she is also capable of getting the list of fixed and known issues.

In some organizations, the person in charge of writing the Release Notes is the Product Manager who knows everything there is to know about a product.

Who is the Target Audience of the Release Notes

The target audience of the release notes is personas using the product / software.

Do Release Notes have multiple forms?

The Release Notes accompanying a product / software could have multiple forms. If the product is a first-time released on the market the document is called Release Notes highlighting already mentioned aspects: known issues (if any) and installation, configuration or deployment required steps.

The Release Notes accompanying product newer versions and upgrades could actually be “some” Modifications Notes listing aspects like: product new features, fixed issues, known issues and any necessary deployment steps.

There is no magic formula for using either Release Notes or Modification Notes. It’s all in the decision you take to inform end-users of product features and issues.

Where do I find sample structure of a Release Notes offers an extensive database of release templates ready to be customized with your logo and colors.

If you’re feeling creative, we’d love to hear your feedback!

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