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Agile Definition of Done Starter Kit

I often find it amusing when the definition of ‘done’ in Agile is sometimes called ‘done-done’. This is meant to imply that we are not just done with development (the 1st done), but we are done with testing (the 2nd done) as well. However, if you think about all of the activities that are needed to get stories in a sprint backlog into the shape to be potentially shippable, you should probably call it “done-done-done-done” and possibly more (LOL).
So what is the importance of done criteria? First as mentioned, it helps the team understand what is the expectation of getting a story (or the functionality therein) into shape to be potentially shippable. Second, it helps identify the activities and expectations that must occur to build a quality product. Third, all activities in the done criteria are considered when the team sizes the work during Sprint Planning and, therefore, has a direct impact on the sizing of stories. When the team sizes a story, they need to ensure it includes all of the work described in the team’s "done criteria".
 
I usually bring a starter kit of typical tasks to get a story to "done". This helps initiate an active discussion prior to sprint 1 among the team so that each team member understands the various elements of the done criteria and what elements we are agreeing too as a team. Here is my done criteria (aka, definition of done) starter kit:
  • Incremental designing (and what type of design type(s) the team will use)
  • Incremental development (per the development programming techniques, and this includes developing documentation such as user guides and non-functional requirements associated with the story)
  • Incremental building/evolving the unit tests
  • Consideration for incrementally building out automation for regression testing, etc
  • Applying appropriate source control, checkout/checkin, and branching/merging
  • Applying approach incremental local builds (in private workspace)
  • Applying code review (or pair programming if being applied) as appropriate
  • Incremental testing (per the testing types, e.g., functional, system, integration, etc., pending how much automation there is)
  • Meeting acceptance criteria shared by the Product Owner
At this point, the team discusses these elements and establishes a common definition of done for the stories and the sprint. Now keep in mind that this is the team’s common done criteria and it should be flexible depending on the type of work. Also, once the team agrees to done criteria, expect it to evolve over time and it may be a discussion in the Retrospective if it needs improvement. Some of the effort associated with your definition of done is dependent on what tools, infrastructure, and automation, that currently exists and where you want to go, so keep this in mind.

Finally, if your definition of done has nine key activities, then you can call it the “done-done-done-done-done-done-done-done-done” criteria (LOL).  Maybe just one "Done" is enough.  Once you establish the done criteria for the team, don’t forget to evolve it over time to get you to a quality and releasable product!