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Definition of Done

The moment a Product Backlog item meets the Definition of Done, an Increment is born. The Definition of Done (DoD) represents the organization's formal definition of quality for all Product Backlog Items (PBIs). If an organization does not have one, the Scrum team should set its own. The Definition of Done is the commitment contained within the Increment artifact. Think of the DoD as what the organization requires before it can deliver a PBI to the end user. For an hour-long deep dive into this topic, please see our webinar Getting to Done (subscription required).

Estimated time for this course: 5 minutes
Audience: Intermediate
Suggested PrerequisitesUser Stories, Velocity

Upon completion you will:

  • Be able to articulate what a Definition of Done is
  • Create a Definition of Done for your Team(s)
  • Know why its important to have a Definition of Done

Definition of Done Overview:

In software, a Definition of Done may be: “Done means coded to standards, reviewed, implemented with unit Test-Driven Development (TDD), tested with 100 percent test automation, integrated and documented.”

In a services context, it might look something like this: "Done means every task under the User Story has been completed and any work created is attached to the User Story so the Product Owner can review it and make sure it meets his or her expectations."

At Scrum Inc., a business services organization, this can include word documents, excels sheets, presentation decks, e-mails or any number of other work produced. In order for the Product Owner to accept the story these elements need to be attached to the User Story for it to be called done.

The Definition of Done ensures everyone on the Team knows exactly what is expected of everything the Team delivers. It ensures transparency and quality fit for the purpose of the product and organization. As Jeff points out in video, getting stories done can double a Teams Velocity. The slides delineate how to get stories both Ready and Done."

The Definition of Done promotes transparency by providing everyone a unified understanding of the work completed during the Increment. If a Product Backlog item doesn't meet the Definition of Done, it shouldn't be released or presented at the Sprint Review. Instead, it's returned to the Product Backlog for future consideration. If the Definition of Done for an increment is a part of the organization's standards, all Scrum Teams should follow it as a minimum. If it's not an organizational standard, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriately for the product. The Developers (anybody who is working on the sprint increment) must conform to the Definition of Done. If multiple Scrum Teams are collaborating on a product, they must mutually define and comply with the same Definition of Done. The Definition of Done is the commitment contained in the Increment artifact.

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