What is the Definition of Done?

The Definition of Done (DoD) is when an item meets a collection of criteria for it to be considered complete, or “done”.

The Definition of Done (DoD) is a crucial concept in agile methodologies, particularly in Scrum, acting as a comprehensive checklist that outlines the criteria each product backlog item must meet to be considered complete. This checklist is essential for creating a shared understanding among the Scrum team, ensuring that everyone knows exactly what is required for a product to be potentially releasable.

According to the Scrum Guide, “The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the Increment.” It specifies that if a product backlog item does not meet the DoD, it cannot be considered during the Sprint Review for release and must be returned to the Product Backlog for future consideration.

Key Elements and Benefits

Understanding the DoD begins with grasping two key elements of Agile project management:

  • Product Backlog Item: Individual tasks ranging from specifications and requirements to use cases, bugs, or time-boxed research tasks.
  • Product Increment: The sum of all Product Backlog Items completed during a Sprint, representing a version or part of the product ready at the end of each Sprint.

When a Product Backlog item meets the DoD, it contributes to the creation of a new Increment. The benefits of a well-defined DoD include:

  • Transparency: Ensures that everyone on the team understands when an item is “done,” reducing confusion and disagreements.
  • Inspection: Facilitates ongoing scrutiny by team members throughout the Sprint, allowing for early detection and swift resolution of issues. This stage also enables sharing of the product with customers for testing and feedback, ensuring their requirements are met.
  • Adaptation: Allows for continuous improvement of the product based on insights gained from the inspection stage, enhancing the overall quality of the final product.

Responsibility and Examples

The responsibility for the Definition of Done lies with the entire Scrum Team. It requires input from various stakeholders, including the Product Owner, Developers, and Scrum Master, to align with the expectations and to deliver high-quality results.

Examples of items that might be included in the Definition of Done for a software project, such as launching a new mobile app, might include:

  • Code is written and adheres to coding standards.
  • Code has been peer-reviewed.
  • All tests, including device-specific tests, have passed.
  • The app meets all accessibility standards required by platforms like Google Play.

Summary

The Definition of Done is a dynamic tool in agile frameworks, serving as both a quality checklist and a facilitator of acceptance criteria for tasks. It ensures that every deliverable adds value and meets the requisite quality standards before being considered complete. Importantly, the DoD is not static; it evolves as teams and organisations grow, allowing for the inclusion of more comprehensive criteria over time to address new challenges and remove impediments.

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