Definitions of Done

Definitions of Done

Tony Cotgrave is on hand once again to give you his thoughts on what Definitions of Done are, and the misconceptions that often abound from those who make use of them.


An image of a magnifying glass with ribbon 

Q: First things first, what is a definition of done?

A: “To start with, let’s define what a definition of done is. The Agile Alliance defines it as something ‘the team agrees on, and is displayed prominently somewhere in the team room, a list of criteria which must be met before a product increment, often a user story, is considered done. Failure to meet these criteria at the end of a sprint normally implies that the work should not be counted towards that sprint’s velocity.”

The Scrum Guide defines it as:

’A formal description of the state of the increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product. The moment a Product Backlog item meets the definition of done, an increment is born.’

“A definition of done is there to create transparency by providing everyone with a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the increment. If a product backlog items doesn’t meet the definition of done, it isn’t released.”


Q: What does a definition of done contain?

A: “Well, it depends really. The definition of done for one team may be very different from that of another team. Even two teams working on the same product could have different definitions of done at a team level, but then a consistent one for the integration and release of their collective work.

A definition of done could contain statements such as:

  • Work has been peer reviewed
  • A load test has been passed
  • A penetration test passed
  • Compliance documentation uploaded/completed
  • Functional tests passed
  • Non-functional tests passed
  • User acceptance
  • Product Owner approval

Make sure you review the definition of done at the end of each iteration to see if it needs adjusting or improving. Many of the problems we see with not being able to release can be improved through tightening the definition of done.

“So, don’t be scared to update it or change it with the team!”


In this Course, you will explore the process of sprint planning. 


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