The last signature has gone on the sign off document. The team is gathering early feedback on the product and everyone is starting to get a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment. Releasing software is fun.
To a certain degree it is always a gamble. You are gambling that people will find your software useful. You are gambling that you can achieve the quality customers expect. You are gambling that you can provide the solutions for the problems scheduled by the sprint.
At the time of shipping a lot of the stars need to align. If I was to compare shipping software to something I would compare it to the game of football - absolutely everyone needs to play their position and know what other people are doing or the entire process doesn't work.
Project Management needs to clear up the obstacles and take the paper work load off the technical staff. Development needs to produce features and minimize bugs. Quality Assurance needs to define the right test passes and run them to show the quality of the product. If any one of those disciplines doesn't play their role correctly the product doesn't ship.
While all these people are involved in any part of the software process it is only during shipping that you see the hard decisions being made and the trade offs play out. When I was at Microsoft it was a pleasure working with people who have gone through this process many times. Everyone knew what to expect and what tradeoffs meant.
DS Pro team uses Agile, iterative approach. It works out great because people get to practice making tradeoffs every single month. Every month you have to deliver something useful and every month people understand how to cut features, what resources are needed, who needs to do what and by when.
Some people think that you can teach this through a book. I don't believe so. You need to experience this first hand before you start getting a feeling of what's important and why.
Asides from technical issues every new group of individuals poses it's own challenges. We started out with people taking really hard positions on certain issues and over time they realized that the most important thing is how we play together in order to deliver innovation to the market place.
We are currently in a position where we can make a lot of people's lives easier. While there is a potential for a profit it is also important to realize that if we can't get our act together we miss an opportunity to improve someone's quality of life.