Definition of Done and Definition of Ready

Agile has unfolded many acceptable practices, and we can reap its benefits when applied to any agile-based project. This article will discuss two such practices provided by Agile Scrum methodology Definition of Done and Definition of Ready.

Definition of Done (DoD)

I remember joining a project as a scrum master, and I asked the team when you say that your work is done? The reply from one of the senior members was when the coding is complete. That is when I realized that we need to have a proper Definition of Done for our project as a team.

So, whenever in scrum we say that an item is done, everyone in the team should be clear around what it means to say something ‘DONE’.
Therefore, a DOD helps the team and other stakeholders, including the customers, know when something got completed and what quality to expect.

DOD in most of the scrum projects includes a list of items that verify the COMPLETENESS of any product backlog item (PBI) and is common to all.
Also, generally the teams define their DOD for:

  • Product Backlog Item
  • Sprint Completion
  • Release Closure
DOD ensures Consistency, Completeness, Quality and Potential Shipping Ability for an Item.

Who defines Definition of Done

The scrum team’s (development team, the scrum master, and the product owner) collective responsibility is to have a Definition of Done for their team.
Organization and senior management are also essential factors that add to the ingredients of DOD, but the decision needs to be taken entirely by the scrum team.


Example of Definition of Done Checklist

In most Scrum teams, DOD is defined as a checklist that includes factors like: reviews, completeness of code, unit-testing, writing of automated test cases, verification at the frontend and backend levels, sprint reviews, demos
and much more

Here is an example of the DOD checklist:

  • Code Review Completed
  • Peer Review Completed
  • Unit Testing Done
  • Smoke Test at Environment ‘A’ Completed
  • Test Case Executed for Module ‘XYZ’
  • Acceptance Criteria Met
  • Demo Completed
Do not overcomplicate the DOD by being obsessed over the checklist. Teams should try to keep the DOD simple, generic, and easy to apply.

Definition of Ready (DoR)

Like DOD, the Definition of Ready is another concept introduced by agile. This powerful practice helps the team avoid confusion and saves time during sprint planning meetings.
A good count of scrum teams faces uncertainty while planning to decide, “Should we pull story A in the coming sprint? Are we ready to work on it now?” Well, before pulling any PBI (product backlog Item) for a sprint, the team should agree that this PBI is ‘Ready to Begin.’

DOR is a criterion defined to ensure that a particular item is appropriate to be started.

The absence of DOR creates a lot of confusion and wastage among teams. For example, if the user story is pulled into the sprint and it’s not up for it, then working on it will lead to uncompleted work, decreased velocity of the sprint, and wastage of time. Apart from this, frustration and quarrels arise as well, lowering the team spirit eventually. Hence, DOR is of much importance to a scrum team.

A simple formula adopted by a lot of projects is to define their Definition of Ready clearly.

Follow the INVEST principle to have a detailed view on how the guidelines should be for the DOR.


  • I- Independent
  • N- Negotiable
  • V- Valuable
  • E – Estimable
  • S – Sized
  • T – Testable

Example of Definition of Ready

Some of the good practices followed in many teams for DOR:

  • Have an estimation either done or can be estimated.
  • User story should be small enough that work can be initiated on them.
  • User story should be divisible into generic tasks that a team follows like – development, test case writing, manual testing, etc.
  • User story should have test criteria defined.
  • User story should not have many dependencies on other user stories.
  • The team should have a clear idea of what value this item adds for the customers.

Read more around the INVEST principle and how to write good user stories.

Having a Definition of Done and Definition of Ready gives the team Clarity, Efficiency, Quality and  Intention for each work item. 
Good Luck !!!

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