How to Write Internal Release Notes

Agile development processes in modern organizations mean that any tool or software today is constantly changing. This change could range from adding a new feature or fixing a bug to releasing an entirely updated product. 

Although some of these changes can seem minor, they can seriously impact and create confusion if not communicated properly. Ever faced this issue where well-planned product updates created havoc within your internal teams? 

That’s exactly why creating an internal communication plan is crucial for any new release or update. An internal release note keeps everyone informed, aligned, and prepared for the latest updates. Similar to release notes, which help to keep the end-user (or customer) updated on a new release, internal release notes provide detailed information to internal stakeholders about changes or updates to a product. 

In this guide, we will uncover what internal release notes are, why they are valuable, and how to write them, exploring their purpose, key elements, and best practices. We’ll also provide actionable tips to help you create internal release notes that drive successful product adoption. So, let’s begin!

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Understanding Internal Release Notes

Internal release notes are detailed documents outlining the modifications made to a product before its launch or update goes live. They communicate these changes to various internal teams, starting from development teams to the top brass and end-users within the organization. These documents aim to streamline the release management process and ensure that the internal stakeholders get relevant information about the recent changes, updates, and fixes implemented within the product before the release date.

To build internal release notes, organizations often involve the following teams: 

  • Technical writers: Responsible for crafting clear and informative documentation based on the internal release notes
  • Marketing team: Leverages the information to develop communication strategies and user training materials
  • End users: Internal teams who will be directly impacted by the product changes and require knowledge to utilize them effectively

The importance of internal release notes in agile product management

Modern product development often uses the agile methodology, which emphasizes iterative development and frequent release of products. Since each project or product development cycle is broken down into iterative development release cycles as per Agile release planning methodology, internal notes are even more crucial. By properly utilizing internal release notes, you can streamline agile processes and uncover benefits like:

  • Improved team alignment: Internal release notes ensure everyone on the development team, from developers to product managers, is on the same page about the latest changes. This minimizes confusion and fosters a collaborative environment
  • Streamlined product delivery: By clearly outlining new features, bug fixes, and potential dependencies, great product release notes help streamline the transition between development stages and internal testing. This reduces delays and ensures a smoother product delivery process
  • Enhanced transparency: Regular release notes provide a running log of changes, fostering transparency throughout the development cycle. This allows all stakeholders to track progress and identify potential roadblocks early on
  • Prioritized feature rollout: Agile methodologies often involve prioritizing features for release. Highlighting the most critical updates for each internal team ensures everyone focuses on the highest-impact changes

Internal release notes & user experience design

While internal release notes are not directly targeted toward external users, they help shape the overall user experience. By providing clear directions to each team, they communicate thoughtful UX design principles that shape the end product. This helps improve the overall appearance and usability of a product, providing several benefits such as:

  • Clarity and structure: Well-organized release notes with clear headings, bullet points, and consistent formatting improve readability and information retrieval. This allows internal teams to quickly grasp new features and potential functionalities, ultimately impacting how they interact with and support the final product
  • Focus on user impact: Internal release notes that go beyond simply listing features and delve into the ‘why’ behind the changes are valuable for UX designers. Understanding the rationale for new features allows UX designers to adapt their designs to align with the overall product vision and user needs
  • Call out the bugs: If the new release has fixed minor bugs, make sure to call them out. The bugs could have affected many users, and highlighting these bug fixes in the release notes helps create a positive atmosphere about your products and brand
  • Provide the next steps: Often, simple fixes and updates only focus on key issues, leaving some prominent tasks for the next update. To help each team member understand what to expect from the upcoming updates, clearly defined release notes share all the updates and how they impact existing or forthcoming updates. This empowers UX designers and developers to take ownership of specific tasks related to the update. This could involve creating user training materials or testing new features from a UX perspective, ensuring no disruption to existing user workflows

External vs. internal release notes

You may still be confused about the different release notes. Shouldn’t they be the same thing? While both release notes communicate helpful and relevant information, their target audiences and objectives differ, with subtle differences.

External release notes are like detailed technical documentation that highlights new features, bug fixes, and improvements that directly impact the user experience for external customers. They typically use a more customer-centric language and avoid overly technical details.

Meanwhile, internal release notes act like an internal knowledge base for the product. They provide a more granular view of changes, including technical details, potential impact on existing internal workflows, and training requirements for internal teams. They may also delve into known issues or limitations associated with the update, which is important for internal stakeholders to be aware of.

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How to Write Engaging Internal Release Notes

The whole purpose of internal release notes is clear—to keep internal stakeholders up-to-date and informed about all the changes with a new release. However, when writing release notes, many tend to lose track of what should and shouldn’t be included. To create effective notes that are clear, concise, and easy to navigate for all stakeholders, one should consider their key elements.

Essential elements for an effective internal release note

The key elements of internal release notes include:

  • Targeted content: Consider the specific needs of each internal team (development, marketing, support) and tailor the information accordingly. For example, the release notes should explain how the new release will impact developers and focus on user impact and recommendations for the development team. Similarly, you can also consider the needs of marketing and support teams and tailor the notes accordingly
  • Technical information: Release notes need to have clear technical insights into the changes being made and their potential impact (if known). This information is crucial, especially for product and testing teams, and needs to be as detailed as possible to create minimal confusion
  • Benefits over features: Don’t just list features; explain the ‘why’ behind the changes. How will these updates improve user experience or address existing pain points for internal teams?
  • Version control: Clearly identify the version number or release name to avoid confusion, especially in agile environments with frequent updates
  • Links to the internal knowledge base: Internal release notes are not just fresh documents but, ideally, are an extension of the overall product documentation. So, wherever necessary, you can link to features or existing documentation, allowing your users to easily access this information
  • Screenshots and videos: Just having text-based information may not always help communicate the new features or steps you want to showcase. Instead, consider including screenshots and video walkthroughs as much as possible.  For example, you can walk the entire team through the updates made and show how the new release is different from the previous one
Release Notes Template by ClickUp

Keeping track of all these elements is often challenging, which is why release management tools often use ready-to-use and customizable templates for release notes

With the ClickUp Release Notes Template, you can easily craft release notes that capture all the important details, including elements that:

  • Provide clear and concise summaries of changes and improvements
  • Educate end users and internal stakeholders on how to use new features
  • Annotate changes with helpful meta-data and annotations
  • Ensure transparency in releases and updates
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Internal Release Note Examples

Now that we have explored the crucial elements of a release note, let us see an example of how it is implemented.

The ClickUp Internal Release Notes documentation provides another example of what internal release notes should encompass. The platform is constantly being updated to make it even more powerful, and it is important to communicate these changes to all stakeholders. This includes communicating user feedback and fixes to any issues, the new features that have been added, and improvements that should be in the spotlight.

ClickUp 2024 update (Release 3.14) release notes
ClickUp’s 2024 update (Release 3.14) release notes

Take a look at the release notes of our 2024 update (Release 3.14). In this release, we enhanced mobile relationships and improved recurring tasks, invoice notifications, and more. The release notes communicate these updates using screenshots, concise video walkthroughs, and links to relevant internal documents, ensuring every stakeholder is aligned with the new updates. 

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Best Practices for Internal Release Notes

We recommend using product management templates for all your internal communication and release notes. Here are some additional best practices for writing a well-structured release note:

  • Version control: Clearly identify the version number or release name to avoid confusion
  • Defined structure and formatting: Utilize clear headings, bullet points, and consistent formatting for easy readability
  • Prioritize information: Present the most critical information first, followed by less essential details
  • Visual aids: Include screenshots or short videos to illustrate complex features
  • Testing and feedback: Proofread your notes carefully before distribution and encourage internal teams to provide feedback
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Common Release Note Mistakes to Avoid

Even the most seasoned product teams often fall prey to mistakes when crafting release notes. To avoid these errors, we recommend following the best practices, using internal communication software to streamline your documentation, and also being on the lookout for common release note writing mistakes like:

  • Using complex technical jargon: While some technical details may be necessary, avoid overwhelming readers with overly technical language. Remember that this document will be used by multiple internal stakeholders, including non-technical audience
  • Lack of rationale: Don’t just list features; explain the value proposition behind each change. How will these updates improve user experience or address existing pain points? This is crucial because the idea of these release notes is to inform internal teams about the reasoning behind recent updates and not just list feature enhancements
  • Lack of structure and formatting: A disorganized document is a confusing document. Utilize clear headings, bullet points, and consistent formatting to ensure easy navigation and readability
  • Missing actionable steps: Leave your readers with a clear understanding of what’s next. Include actionable steps for each internal team, such as training requirements, workflow adjustments, or communication strategies
  • Ignoring feedback: Internal release notes are a living document. Encourage feedback from stakeholders and incorporate valuable suggestions into future iterations
  • Inconsistent release schedule: Aim for a consistent release schedule since it helps internal teams anticipate updates and plan accordingly
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Streamlining Production with Internal Release Notes

Internal release notes aren’t just informative documents; they’re powerful tools for streamlining your product delivery process. Some of the ways they help in production cycles include:

  • Reduced onboarding time: Detailed release notes equip internal users with the knowledge they need to adapt to new features quickly. Clear explanations translate to a smoother onboarding process and faster adoption rates
  • Improved cross-team collaboration: Effective internal communication is crucial in agile development. Release notes ensure everyone across departments is on the same page, fostering better collaboration and problem-solving throughout the development cycle
  • Enhanced quality assurance: Release notes outline potential impacts or known issues, empowering internal teams, like QA testers, to identify and address potential roadblocks early in the process. This proactive approach leads to a more streamlined and efficient quality assurance process

Developing an internal glossary: An essential step

While internal release notes can be a stand-alone document, it helps to make them part of your overall knowledge repository. Also, adding an internal glossary helps improve internal communication and provides benefits like:

  • Improved clarity: By referencing the glossary within your release notes, you ensure all internal users understand the terminology used, regardless of their technical background. This eliminates confusion and facilitates smoother knowledge transfer
  • Reduced ambiguity: Precise definitions within the glossary prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations of technical terms used in release notes. This fosters clear communication and reduces the need for clarification
  • Enhanced searchability: A well-organized, searchable internal glossary lets readers quickly find definitions for specific terms within release notes. This promotes self-sufficiency and saves valuable time

Improving software release notes with a knowledge-driven culture

Internal release notes can support a company-wide knowledge-driven culture emphasizing collaboration and knowledge sharing for improved processes. This helps improve the quality of new iterations and creates a team culture that is built on the principles of:

  • Encouraging feedback: Actively encourage feedback on internal release notes from stakeholders across departments. Utilize this feedback to continuously improve the quality, clarity, and effectiveness of your release notes
  • Knowledge-sharing initiatives: Promote knowledge-sharing initiatives within your organization. These could involve internal knowledge-sharing platforms, brown bag lunches, or cross-departmental discussions. By encouraging open communication and knowledge exchange, you ensure everyone benefits from the information contained in internal release notes
  • Investment in training: Consider providing training sessions on how to best utilize and interpret internal release notes. This empowers all internal teams to leverage this valuable resource effectively
ClickUp Product Backlog List View Example
Manage the entire product development lifecycle and collaboration using ClickUp Software

ClickUp for Software Teams can act as your all-in-one work hub for the entire product development lifecycle, bringing cross-functional teamwork, project management tools, and knowledge repositories together in one place. This helps streamline your entire release management with advanced features that allow you to:

  • Create a dedicated space for managing your internal release notes using ClickUp Docs, categorizing them based on product version or feature release to maintain consistency. With all your notes stored in a protected platform, your teams can collaborate and edit them in real time. Plus, having the option to protect access, embed links, add images or videos, etc. improves efficiency. It also has built-in version control, so you can always go back to the last version of the document if required
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  • Assign tasks related to note creation, revisions, and distribution to specific team members and set clear deadlines using ClickUp Tasks. This ensures accountability and timely delivery of release notes
  • Capture user insights and internal feedback from the team on specific features, issues, or workflows using the ClickUp Form view. This nifty feature ensures that team members can easily provide feedback. The ability to add screenshots and other helpful cues makes it easy for your teams to implement these inputs
  • Write documentation and create development plans using ClickUp Brain, a powerful AI assistant that can help you summarize information, find relevant data, and build AI-generated content using specific prompts
ClickUp AI Product Requirements Document Example
Write detailed product documents and release notes using ClickUp Brain
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Best Practices for Internal Release Notes: Recap

  • Use product management templates for all your internal communication and release notes
  • Clearly identify the version number or release name
  • Add clear headings, bullet points, and consistent formatting for better readability
  • Use visual aids like images or videos to illustrate features
  • Avoid using complex language or technical jargon
  • Explain the value proposition behind each change
  • Add actionable next steps for each internal team
  • Incorporate changes in the current and future versions based on feedback
  • Maintain a consistent release schedule for your release notes
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Manage Internal Release Notes & Improve Usability With ClickUp

Internal release notes are a powerful tool often overlooked in the product development process. Clear, concise, and informative notes can empower your team, streamline product delivery, and ultimately elevate the user experience.

Conditional Logic in ClickUp Forms Product Feedback Example
Instantly provide feedback on new product releases using ClickUp Forms

For an even better way to manage your internal communication and release notes, we recommend using ClickUp for Product Management. With internal collaboration features, detailed documentation, and ready-to-use technical documentation templates for all your specific product management workflows, it can streamline the process of writing release notes. Plus, with all your product documentation and feedback in one place, creating technical documentation becomes simpler. 

Try ClickUp for free to understand how it streamlines the creation and management of your release notes.

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