5 Secrets for perfect agile team setup with Definition Of Done and Ready

Newborn agile teams often forget to work on a clear definition of ready & definition of done, or they create a complicated path that blocks the team and leads to demotivation. 

Find here definitions of these 2 useful concepts and 5 tips for making DoR and DoD keys of success for your Agile Team !

What is a Definition Of Ready (DoR) ?

Before going in a Sprint Backlog, a User Story has to be ready.

DoR is the checklist done by the team of explicit criteria that a User Story must meet before being accepted into the next sprint.

So these are the criterias the team puts as a To Do for the Product Owner.

The Definition Of Ready is helpful to reduce risk of being unable to finish the realization of a User Story within a sprint.

Generally we follow SMART and/or INVEST criteria : 

– Specific / Measurable / Achievable / Realistic / Timebound

– Independant / Negotiable / Valuable / Estimable / Small / Testable

What is a Definition of Done (DoD) ?

The DoD is an agreement within the team about the criteria which must be met before a User Story is considered “done”.

If these criteria are not met for a User Story, it will be normally considered as not finished and won’t be counted in the sprint’s velocity.

What are the Benefits ?

Here are the key benefits of defining and agreeing on DoR and DoD for an agile team :

- Avoids beginning to work on unready issues
- Limits the risk of misunderstanding
- No waste of time with discussion about the work process
- Efficient communication between members
- Stable velocity since there is less risk of postponing

An example ?

Here is an example of Definition Of Ready :

  • Story must be written as a user story (i.e. “As a I want so that ”)
  • Acceptance criteria must exist and be understood by team
  • Story has been estimated by the team
  • UX sketches exist, where appropriate, and are understood by team
  • Performance criteria exist, where appropriate, and are understood by team

Example checklist of Definition Of Done :

  • Project builds without errors
  • Unit tests written and passing
  • Project deployed on the test environment
  • QA performed & issues resolved
  • Feature is tested against acceptance criteria
  • Feature ok-ed by Product Owner
  • Documentation updated

Discover the 5 secret tips for Definition of Ready and Definition of Done

Trust the team

Let the team discuss and define its Definition Of Ready and Done.

As a PO, or ScrumMaster, you may have your view, but experience all together. 

Make sure it is visible to all

After defining it, make sure everyone can check the lists and be able to apply it to his/her work.

Don't be too litigious with DoR and DoD

Don’t try to be too precise on the process and don’t be litigious. DoR with criteria such as “US validated by IT Director and by Marketing VP” won’t work with their agenda.

Even when one of your teammate don’t fully respects the DoR or DoD, try to help her/him and go ahead. Perfection will come.

Improve with new tools

Sometimes you’re not able to do some part of an ideal DoD, but as soon as you get the tools, you will be able to improve your checklist !

Regularly check at retrospectives

DoR and DoD are not an exact science : you have to find the criterias that fit to your team, and make your work suitable

Little EXTRA : DoD and DoR cheaters

Watch these videos and you’ll understand the difference between good DoD and DoD cheaters !

The perfect one

Everyone in the team does his job

Cheating one

Here is the version where someone is cheating on the definition of done

Now that you’ve got your 5 tips to do best Definition Of Ready and Definition Of Done, let’s go back to your team and set a new ground !

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