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Scrum is based on three pillars – Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation. The Definition of Done helps developers maximise the effectiveness of these pillars during development. Effective Scrum Masters, Product Owners and Developers understand the need for this key practice, learn more below.

The Definition of Done (DoD) is a term used in agile software development to describe the criteria that a product must meet before it can be considered complete. It is a shared understanding within a development team of what needs to be done to consider a piece of work complete. The Definition of Done is not a Scrum artefact!

The DoD helps to ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what needs to be done to meet the standards of the project. It also helps to prevent scope creep, when the developers are working on items. Scope creep is when additional features or requirements are added to product backlog items or even the  project after it has started.

The DoD can vary from team to team and from project to project, but it typically includes tasks such as:

  • Writing code
  • Writing unit tests
  • Code reviews
  • Integrating the code into the main codebase
  • Running tests
  • Doing a short Demo

It may also include other tasks such as writing documentation, conducting user testing, or performing performance testing.

In addition to ensuring that all necessary work is completed, the DoD also helps to improve the quality of the product by setting standards for the team to follow. It helps the team to focus on delivering a high-quality product that meets the needs of the users

Who is responsible for creating the DoD?

The Definition of Done (DoD) is typically created by the development team as a whole.

The DoD should be created early in the project, ideally during the planning stage. This will help to ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of the standards that need to be met and the tasks that need to be completed.

The development team should involve all members in the creation of the DoD, as each team member will have a unique perspective on what needs to be done to ensure a high-quality product. This can include developers, testers, designers, and any other team members who will be involved in the project.

It is also important for the team to involve stakeholders, such as the product owner, in the creation of the DoD. This will help to ensure that the standards set align with the needs and expectations of the stakeholders.

Overall, the development team is responsible for creating the DoD, with input from all team members and stakeholders. It is a shared understanding that helps to ensure that all necessary work is completed and that the final product meets the standards of the project.

When should the team review the definition of done?

The Definition of Done (DoD) should be reviewed regularly throughout the development process. This is because the needs and requirements of the project may change over time. It is important for the team to periodically review the DoD to ensure that it is still relevant and meets the needs of the project.

One way to review the DoD is to have a dedicated Retrospective meeting at the end of each sprint (if the team is using a Scrum framework) to discuss any updates or changes that may be necessary. This can be an opportunity for the team to reflect on their work and identify any areas where the DoD may need to be updated or modified.

It is also a good idea to review the DoD before the start of each new sprint, as this will help to ensure that the team has a clear understanding of what needs to be done and what standards need to be met.

In addition to these regular reviews, the DoD should also be reviewed whenever there are significant changes to the project, such as the addition of new features or a change in the project scope. This will help to ensure that the DoD remains relevant and reflects the current needs of the project.

Overall, it is important for the team to review the DoD regularly to ensure that it is still relevant and meets the needs of the project. This will help to ensure that the team is working towards the same goals and delivering a high-quality product.

What can happen in the absence of the Definition of Done?

In the absence of a Definition of Done, a development team may struggle to deliver a high-quality product on time and within scope. Without a clear understanding of what needs to be done to consider a piece of work complete, team members may not have a shared understanding of their responsibilities and the standards they should be striving to meet. This can lead to confusion and misunderstandings, which can result in a lack of focus and productivity.

Without a DoD, it can also be more difficult to identify and address issues that arise during the development process. Without a clear understanding of what is expected, it may be harder to identify when something has gone wrong or when a task has not been completed to the necessary standards.

In addition, the lack of a DoD can lead to scope creep, which is when additional features or requirements are added to a project after it has started. Without a clear understanding of what needs to be done, it can be easier for stakeholders to request additional work or for team members to take on tasks that are outside the scope of the project. This can lead to delays and increased costs, as well as a decrease in the overall quality of the product.

Overall, the absence of a Definition of Done can have negative impacts on the development process and the final product. It is important for teams to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to consider a piece of work complete in order to deliver high-quality products on time and within scope.

5 common mistakes when creating the Definition of Done!

Common mistakes that teams can make when creating the Definition of Done (DoD):

  1. Not involving all team members in the creation of the DoD: It is important for all team members from the Scrum Team  to be involved in the creation of the DoD. Failing to involve everyone can result in a DoD that does not accurately reflect the needs and expectations of the team.
  2. Not setting clear and specific standards: The DoD should include clear and specific standards that the team can use to measure their progress and the quality of their work. Without clear standards, it can be difficult for the team to determine when a piece of work is complete.
  3. Setting unrealistic standards: While it is important for the DoD to include high standards, it is also important for the team to balance high standards with something achievable. The Team should ensure that these standards are realistic. Setting unrealistic standards can lead to unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations for the team.
  4. Not reviewing and updating the DoD regularly: As the needs and requirements of the project change over time, it is important for the team to review and update the DoD regularly.  AS teams get better at Agile delivery, the DoD usually becomes more stringent. Failing to do keep the DoD relevant can result in the DoD becoming outdated and no longer reflecting the needs of the project.
  5. Not being specific enough: The DoD should be specific enough to give the team clear guidance on what needs to be done, but not so specific that it becomes inflexible. Striking the right balance is important in order to allow the team to respond to changing circumstances and still meet the standards set by the DoD.

Great Scrum Masters, Product Owners and Agile Developers understand the importance of a clear Definition of Done and its impact on the team.

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