Definition of Done vs Definition of Ready

Many other editors have already written a lot about these two definitions, although last month it happened something quite curious that made me want to write about it. But, let me tell you what happened!

During a retrospective, one of the teams that I’m working with identified that their stories need to be better defined and must have a reason (identified by the Product Owner). My suggestion was to work on a work agreement regarding what is a good user story for them.

With this job in hand, I prepared a workshop so we can work on the subject!

It was the first time that this opportunity comes into sight, so I shared with my colleagues and asked for their help. After this alignment, I knew exactly what I wanted to share: a brief theory about why we use and what is a User Story, structure, slicing & splitting and the Definition of Ready.

During the workshop, in the last topic – Definition of Ready, a team member asked me “what is the difference between Definition of Done and Definition of Ready?”, in my mind, this was two definitions simple, but I couldn’t explain them, I blocked! :scream

Each team needs to come up with its own Definition of Done and Definition of Ready, appropriated to its context and should develop as the team gets better at working out.

So, what is the Definition of Done?

“The secret of getting things done is to act!”

Dante Alighieri

The Definition of Done is described in the SCRUM Guide as an artifact for transparency, everyone in the team must understand what it means to be “Done” – when all conditions that a product increment (user story/feature) must satisfy are met and ready to be accepted by a user.

This artifact should be very clear and visible to the team because its value lies in being a contract known by each team member which limits the risk of misunderstanding and conflict between the development team and the customer or product owner.

And, what it means Definition of Ready?

It is defined as a set of minimum criteria that each user story has to meet before its ready for work – the goal is getting backlog ready to be immediately actionable by the team. So, this set of criteria should be agreed upon by the team. 

“The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes.”

Benjamin Disraeli

This definition is not included in the SCRUM Guide as opposed to the Definition of Done, but both contribute to the quality and represent transparency. 

Normally, the Definition of Ready is very closely related to what makes a good user story, and therefore to the INVEST model.

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