The Definition of Done: What Product Managers Need to Know (2023)

Are we there yet? This question is difficult to answer if no one agrees exactly where "there" is. In an agile world full of cloud-based solutions, there's no such thing as a wrapped container full of widgets that really means closure. And there is always the possibility of submitting code that is far from a "finished" product. For this reason, it is crucial to agree on what we call the "Definition of Done" to reach a consensus on when projects, initiatives and roles are actually completed.

It all starts with a shared vocabulary: When people don't speak the same language, there's plenty of room for confusion, frustration, and mixed signals. To avoid this scenario, product teams should take the time to work with their engineering and test colleagues to agree on what counts as "done" in different cases.

To go to the same page, here is aQuick Guide to Deconstructing Agile Product Management.

Definition of fact definition

The definition of done is an agreed set of items that must be completed before a project or user story can be considered complete. It is consistently applied and serves as an official gateway that separates things from "in progress" to "done".

While the details vary from organization to organization, a typical definition of done is a checklist with items like:

  • The code is reviewed by experts.
  • The code is verified
  • The code is deployed in the test environment.
  • Code/function passes regression test
  • Code/function passes smoke test
  • The code is documented.
  • Help documentation has been updated
  • The resource is approved by the interested parties

Different companies and development groups will come up with their own variations, but they will all fall under the same ideal: the code does what it's supposed to do and breaks nothing else. It is especially important that each feature/release/sprint follow these steps to ensure it is ready to ensure consistent quality and integrity.

There should also be an element of transparency, as everything can be traced back to this completion checklist. If a release or feature hasn't checked all the boxes, it can't move forward and everyone will know why.

(Video) What is Product Management? Definition and Examples

Who defines finished?

The engineering organization is often the key player in defining the definition of done, as a lot of that is about making sure things work well and meet basic engineering requirements. The definition can be led by the Scrum Master or the Head of Engineering.

However, it should be a common exercise to agree on what counts as "done". Without input and approval from product, QA, and other stakeholders, there will not be widespread acceptance of whether something is actually being done or if engineering is just saying so.

“Think of all the work that needs to be done to get the story into production. Be creative and include everything, even tasks that may be out of your team's control,” says the product development consultant.Luis Goncalves🇧🇷 From that ideal vision of "fact", you can reduce it to a more realistic definition.

put into practice

Setting Done saves time in the long run by reducing unnecessary revisions later. If the code fits the definition, everyone will have peace of mind knowing they're ready for prime time.

"The Definition of Ready (DoD) is when all the conditions or acceptance criteria that a software product must meet are met and ready to be accepted by a user, customer, computer, or consumer system," he says.Derek Huetherof ALM platforms. “We have to meet the definition of done to ensure quality. Reduce rework by preventing out-of-definition user stories from being promoted to higher-level environments. This will prevent out-of-definition functionality from being delivered to the client or user.”

Once the definition is in place, it is applied to everything, ensuring consistency and quality.

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“These rules apply to every work item that goes through our task boards, as long as it's code. Whether it's a big user story with lots of dependencies or a small bug fix, the person doing the work is expected to go through these checklists,” she says.danny smithby Charlie H.R. "But that doesn't mean everything on the checklists needs to be checked off for every work item—for example, you probably don't need a marketing email for a small technical improvement. It means everything on the checklist for every work item should be taken into account. We trust our engineers to use their judgment."

Why Product Managers Should Care About the Definition of Done

Leaving open whether something is “done” or not can lead to conflict and misunderstanding, leading to negative user experiences and revenue impact, which is a good reason to commit to these criteria before the sprint even begins. Sharing a common vision for the end result is a good starting point for any project, and agreeing on the gates a feature must pass through to completion builds a consensus of expectations.

An added benefit of not giving each individual project its own measure of "done" is also a huge time saver and allows the team to focus on innovation and execution rather than definition; so investing a little time in creating a basic understanding of what it means to complete everyone is a worthwhile endeavor. With the ambiguity resolved, everyone can focus on their core responsibilities instead of arguing about eligibility for layoff later in the process.

Even if a feature appears on the surface as completed, unless the i's and t's have been crossed off by the behind-the-scenes tech team, those features will still come back to "completed" projects to clean things up and resolve any open issues.

"Unfinished work has a bad habit of piling up, and without an overview of how much effort is really left, the shortfall can quickly spiral out of control," he says.ian mitchellby proAgile. "The tyranny of work that's almost done but not really done can leave a team enslaved by technical debt."

Definition of fact vs. criteria of acceptance

If you're wondering why this is a product management issue and not a QA issue for the tech team, it's partly because of the difference between a general definition of done and a specific one.criteria of acceptancefor a specific user story.

(Video) 3 Tips for Product Managers: Updating your Epic's Definition of Done

The DoD generally (with a few exceptions) applies to anything the technical organization tries to ship. While an "OK" product stewardship might be one of the checklist items, it's a pretty general definition.

However, the acceptance criteria are unique to the user story or resource in question. These criteria should be defined by product management, with input from the technical team on any specific use cases or parameters that need to be met to give this item the green light before it can be considered complete.

Since the Department of Defense considers everything, product management should review the definition and make sure they agree that it is complete enough. However, ownership and maintenance of the definition need not necessarily be the responsibility of product management. As long as the product is sure that the "completed" items pass the tests outlined in the Department of Defense, they can leave it alone.

But a delivered product or resource can hardly be considered finished, even in the eyes of the product.

"ForProduct manager, you don't end up with a product (or resource) until you put it out to pasture," he says.seal of adamby Hometap. "Once it's released, it starts with the long line of customer support, pricing changes, bug fixes, and compatibility updates. Once you're done with support, it's time to end it. Then, and only then, a product is finished."

where to start

The definition process should not take place in a vacuum, it should be collaborative between stakeholders and those doing the actual work. Whether you start with a brainstorm or a figurehead suggested by the technical team, there should be ample opportunity for unanimous feedback and support for the final product.

(Video) AA75 - Definition of Done

It's also a good idea to assign owners to each criteria, as they can be the arbiter if there's disagreement about whether a particular item checks that box. This adds consistency and removes any doubt from the equation.

And like all well-intentioned methods, a definition of fact should be as simple and concise as possible. The idea is to create consistent quality and not red tape that unnecessarily delays things.

“The DoD is a contract between the product owner and the team, so it is tempting to include as many elements in the DoD as possible to ensure product quality. But that could backfire,” he says.yves rielfrom okapya. "When teams are faced with too many DoD elements, they only work on a subset or try to do all of them, which removes the value of setting up DoD in the first place."

Your experience may be different

The definition of done refers mainly to the code and its release. But for the product team, you're definitelyNoit's done when something is released, so you have to create your own definition that goes well beyond the product lifecycle.

Goals based on metrics like adoption, usage, retention, or revenue can be an indication that a feature is "ready," or they can be as simple as the requesting customer agreeing that it meets their needs. And since user feedback and analysis can drive further development, not to mention UX feedback or business model changes, the engineering team should be prepared to revisit items they previously considered "done."


How should the product owner be involved with the definition of done? ›

The DoD is defined by the Development Team because they are responsible for the quality of the Increment. The PO, can definitely provide input into the DoD, but ensuring that a "Done" Increment that meets the DoD is delivered belongs to the Development Team.

Which 3 phrases best describe the purpose of a definition of done? ›

Controls whether the developers have performed their tasks. Provides a template for elements that need to be included in the technical documentation. Creates transparency over the work inspected at the Sprint Review.

What three provisions must be understood before something is deemed to be done? ›

Unit Test Coverage. Maintainability Index. No Defects/Known Defects.

What is the definition of done in Product Backlog? ›

The Definition of Done is an agreed list of criteria that the software will meet for each Product Backlog Item. Achieving this level of completeness requires the Team to perform a list of tasks. When all tasks are completed, the item is done.

Who creates DoD in scrum? ›

Now the correct answer is: Scrum Team creates DoD.

Who owns the definition of done in agile? ›

Who defines done? The engineering organization is typically the lead player in defining the Definition of Done since much of it is to guarantee that things work well and meet basic technical requirements. The definition might be lead by the Scrum Master or the head of engineering.

What is a good example of definition of done? ›

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

What is the best definition of done in Scrum? ›

According to the Scrum Guide, the definition of done is a formal description of your quality standards. Specifically, it's the quality required for work to become part of the Increment. It ensures members of the Scrum Team have a shared understanding of what it means for work to be complete.

Is definition of done part of Scrum? ›

The Agile definition of done is a collection of criteria that must be completed for a project to be considered “done.” It is essentially a checklist used by Scrum teams to create a shared understanding of what is required to make a product releasable.

What is typically included in the definition of done? ›

The definition of done (DoD) is when all conditions, or acceptance criteria, that a software product must satisfy are met and ready to be accepted by a user, customer, team, or consuming system.

What are the top three benefits of a good definition of done? ›

3 Benefits of Using the Definition of Done Approach.

When they have a clear, concrete list of criteria, they must meet to consider their work finished, an agile team can more effectively plan their workload. They can estimate completion timeframes. The definition can help them focus on what matters.

What is DoD checklist? ›

DoD is a checklist of the work types that the team is supposed to finish successfully before declaring the work to be potentially shippable. These work types depend on a number of variables like: The nature of the product being developed. The technologies being used to develop it.

What is definition of done checklist? ›

The definition of done (DoD) is an agreed-upon checklist that clearly states when a user story, epic, or theme is considered accomplished. According to The Scrum Guide: “The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the increment.

Who provides the definition of done on a backlog item? ›

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.

What is DoR and DoD in agile? ›

So the definition of ready (DoR) applies to your user stories. It makes transparent your team's shared understanding of what's needed for a user story to be brought into a sprint. The definition of done (DoD) applies to your working software.

Who is accountable for DoD in scrum? ›

Scrum team as a whole is responsible at the end of every iteration of Sprint and in a way creation of the DoD. In adherence with Scrum guide, every member of Scrum team is accountable for the definition of "Done".

Who is responsible for DoD? ›

United States Department of Defense
Agency overview
Annual budgetUS$721.5 billion (FY2020)
Agency executivesLloyd J. Austin, Secretary Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Christopher W. Grady, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
10 more rows

How does DoD help the scrum team? ›

DoD Helps To Get Feedback For Improvement:

DoD defines all the steps to deliver an increment; therefore, it helps Scrum team members get feedback about the product and processes. The well-defined steps like sprint demo, acceptance testing, functional testing etc generate on the time feedbacks from the product owner.

Who creates DoR in agile? ›

In DoR, the team is the "client" and the product owner is the "supplier." In order to come up with the DoR for a user story, the team conducts regular backlog grooming sessions (aka story time) with the product owner. During these sessions, the product owner presents stories to the team and explains them one by one.

Why is DoD important? ›

The DoD is a very important concept in Scrum. It helps to have a common understanding of what work needs to be done before a user story is considered “finished”, it is a place for process improvements and it holds non-functional requirements.

How can I improve my Definition of done? ›

Exercise to improve/expand the definition of done: With your team and within your organization, reflect on the amount of work that needs to be done after a team considers an increment “done”. Help both the organization and the team to change processes and practices to decrease this amount of 'undone' work.

What is DoD in project management? ›

The definition of done (DoD) is a collection of deliverables within a project or contract that, when completed, will act as verifiable and demonstrable benchmarks for a project.

What is the Definition of done agile? ›

the Definition of Done limits the cost of rework once a feature has been accepted as “done” having an explicit contract limits the risk of misunderstanding and conflict between the development team and the customer or product owner.

Does kanban use Definition of Done? ›

Kanban is a Lean thinking methodology. And as such, it has an instructive relationship with the Definition of Done. Additionally, one of the main goals of Kanban (and Lean) is optimization of the value stream.

Should Definition of done include testing? ›

While not explicit to testing, in order to determine if the criteria is met, the has to be some way of validating that and that usually involves some type of testing. A side benefit of a Definition of Done is that it helps the team instill a level of trust that they are doing good work.

What are the 2 Behaviours of an effective scrum master? ›

SAFe Scrum Masters are responsible for supporting and fostering the following team attributes: Self-management and taking ownership and accountability. Aligned and collaborative. Success focused on clear goals and purpose.

What are the 3 C's of Scrum? ›

The three Cs stand for Card, Conversation and Confirmation and in this article, I'm going to discuss each of the elements, explaining why, and how to ensure you're doing it right. I'll also scatter in a few tips from my experiences with agile teams.

What are the 3 pillars of Scrum implementation? ›

Understand Scrum

If you carefully scrutinize scrum, you will find again and again the three pillars of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Which is the ideal meeting to adapt the Definition of done? ›

During each Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team plans ways to increase product quality by improving work processes or adapting the definition of "Done", if appropriate and not in conflict with product or organizational standards.

What is the difference between DoD and acceptance criteria? ›

Definition of Done (DoD) is a list of requirements that a user story must adhere to for the team to call it complete. While the Acceptance Criteria of a User Story consist of set of Test Scenarios that are to be met to confirm that the software is working as expected.

Which two answers are true about definition of done? ›

Which two answers are true about the Definition of "Done"? - Is used to assess when work is complete on the product Increment. - Is used to have a shared understanding of what it means for work to be complete.

What are the DoD core values? ›

DoD: Duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage, and loyalty. Air Force: Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Army: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Coast Guard: Honor, respect, and devotion to duty.

What are DoD standards? ›

DOD standards use non-Government standards and commercial technologies, products, and practices that meet DoD performance requirements. The Defense Standardization Program manages this process and provides a uniform series of specifications, standards, and related documents.

What are DoD components? ›

DoD Components means the law enforcement activities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field ...

What is the purpose of Definition of done? ›

Purpose. The sole purpose of the Definition of Done is to provide transparency about what it means to be “done” (“done” implying that in software development you are never completely done).

Can Definition of done be changed? ›

The Definition of Done may be changed at any time to reflect what a team can complete within each sprint. However, changing the DoD should be an infrequent occurrence, and never something done prior to each sprint.

Does the product owner have the final say over the Definition of done? ›

The Product Owner, acting as the value gatekeeper for the team has the final say on whether a feature is sufficiently valuable to be considered 'Done'. As Mike Cohn says, you can think of the Definition of Done as an extra set of acceptance criteria that are rubber stamped onto each and every user story.

Who is responsible for Definition of ready? ›

The product owner could work together with the team to define an artifact called “the definition of Ready” for ensuring that items at the top of the backlog are ready to be moved into a sprint so that the development team can confidently commit and complete them by the end of a sprint.

Why DoD and DoR is important? ›

DoR and DoD are practices that are needed while improving a product. To ensure that the product meets customer expectations, certain features and ideas have to be added to it from time to time, and defining the criteria for the features to be added is absolutely necessary and that's when the DoR and DoD come into play.

Who is responsible for DoD and DoR? ›

DoR and DoD set a quality standard for all involved participants, therefore, it is crucial that teams themselves create their DoR and DoD, own them, and adhere to them. In creating these definitions, two things are crucial: consulting Agile (SAFe) principles and ensuring team's full agreement.

How do I create a DoD and DoR in Jira? ›

Go to project settings -> fields and make the DoR and Dod fields required. You are welcome! Every User Story that starts and progress through different phases will come to completion where we would want to have a Definition of Done to be checked for each user story.

Why is it important for the Product Owner to have awareness of the Definition of done '? Choose the best two answers? ›

It helps the Product Owner track the open work during a Sprint. It identifies undone work that can be addressed in a separate Sprint. It assures the Increment reviewed at the Sprint review is usable so the Product Owner may choose to release it.

Who owns or is responsible for the Definition of done in Scrum? ›

In the 2020 Scrum Guide, the Definition of Done is created by the Scrum Team. In previous versions of the Scrum Guide, this responsibility was explicitly owned by the Development Team.

Is the Product Owner responsible for determining the best way to get the work done? ›

He owns an authority responsible for deciding the kind of features and functionality to build and the order in which to build them. He also deals in delivering a clear vision to the team. As a product owner, he holds all the responsibility for the overall success of the solution being developed or maintained.

Why does the Product Owner want the developers to adhere to the Definition of done? ›

“The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the Increment. If a Product Backlog item does not meet the Definition of Done, it cannot be released or even presented at the Sprint Review.

What are the three pillars of product ownership? ›

This mindset can be summarized in the three pillars of product ownership, value, decision-making and engagement. Let's look at each of these. First and foremost, product owners must be very concerned about value at every step.

What is the most important for the successful Product Owner to understand? ›

Communication skills

Successfully product owners are able to adapt to different teams and personality types while also understanding and executing the vision of the product. Some of the many topics a product owner is expected to communicate include: Product requirements and goals. Technical knowledge.

What are the 3 pillars of Scrum theory? ›

Understand Scrum

If you carefully scrutinize scrum, you will find again and again the three pillars of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Who is responsible for DoR? ›

In DoR, the team is the "client" and the product owner is the "supplier." In order to come up with the DoR for a user story, the team conducts regular backlog grooming sessions (aka story time) with the product owner. During these sessions, the product owner presents stories to the team and explains them one by one.

What are 3 main responsibilities of product owner in relation with any product? ›

What Are a Product Owner's Major Responsibilities?
  • Managing and prioritizing the product backlog. ...
  • Translating product managers' strategies to tasks for development. ...
  • Learning the market and customers' needs. ...
  • Serving as a liaison between product and development. ...
  • Staying accessible to development to answer questions.

Who is the boss of a product owner? ›

The product manager supervises the whole product lifecycle. This involves being in the early steps and ideas that come from customer research to the actual product launch and delivery. They drive the product strategy that is drawn from customer needs and the market.

How do you handle a difficult product owner? ›

Advice For Slowly Turning Around Difficult Product Owners

Start and end sprints on time. Have standups and demos even if the product owner refuses to attend. Most importantly, overly communicate the timing of meetings, when artifacts are due, and agile practice rules to reinforce responsibilities and schedule.

Does the Product Owner have the final say over the definition of done? ›

The Product Owner, acting as the value gatekeeper for the team has the final say on whether a feature is sufficiently valuable to be considered 'Done'. As Mike Cohn says, you can think of the Definition of Done as an extra set of acceptance criteria that are rubber stamped onto each and every user story.

What is DoD and DoR in Scrum? ›

So the definition of ready (DoR) applies to your user stories. It makes transparent your team's shared understanding of what's needed for a user story to be brought into a sprint. The definition of done (DoD) applies to your working software.


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