What is a Definition of Done?
A definition of done is basically the common acceptance criteria for each product backlog item or User Story. The definition of done lists all the requirements that have to be met before considering a User Story “Done”. An example of a Definition of Done is:
- Story kick-off is done and documented on the Wiki
- Unit Tests are written and pass
- Code is reviewed by a team member
- Acceptance criteria are met and reviewed with the Product Owner
- Code is deployed to the acceptance environment
- All necessairy configuration is done
Why do we need a Definition of Done?
First of all, a definition of done creates clarity on what has to be done for each user story before it can be marked as “Done”. It helps the team to prevent forgetting tasks that are required for each user story.
Next to that, the definition of done also sets the expectations for the increment, since the definition of done tells us everything that will be done for each user story, but it also indicates what is not done for each user story. If it is for example not (yet) possible for a Scrum Team to deliver an increment on the Acceptance environment, but only on the Test environment, adding this to the Definition of Done will set the right expecations. This does not only set the right expectations, but also created transparency towards the entire Scrum Team and the stakeholders.
Without a definition of done, it will be hard to know what activities have to be done within a user story, it will be harder to manage expectations, it will be harder for the team to estimate and it will decrease the general focus within the Sprint.
How to create a Definition of Done
The following steps can help you define the right Definition of Done for your team(s):
- Decide on the Definition of Done together with the entire Scrum Team
- Make a list of all generic activites that should be done for each User Story
- Refine this list into a clear and summarized checklist
- Verify the Definition of Done with the organization, because even though the Definition of Done is created by the Scrum Team, it should also meet organizational needs
- Verify your Definition of Done with other Scrum Teams that are impacted or working together with your team
- Review your Definition of Done on a regular basis
- Don’t overdo it. Don’t make a 10 page long DoD that is overloaded with details, because nobody will read nor use it. Keep it short, focused and easy to read