Done Criteria

December 9, 2013

Deliverables from scrum projects, which are potentially shippable, are also referred to as ‘Done’. instituting an honest, collective understanding of ‘Done’ can protect teams and companies from innumerable hours of refactoring, working on tasks which later turn out to be useless, vague communication, and extra work one did not expect to be ‘Done’. Teams struggled to understand when a task, and then a story, was really ‘Done’. The ‘Done’ criteria are established while creating the prioritized product backlog. While Acceptance Criteria are distinctive for each individual User Story, Done Criteria are a set of guidelines that are valid for all the User Stories in a given Sprint. Product Owners should build ‘Done’ criteria specific to a project and manage it over time. During Sprint Planning, the team has a point of reference as to what it means to be ‘Done’. Good Scrum teams target an established prioritized product backlog where User Stories are well estimated and ‘Done’ criteria are very clear.

Generating and circulating the ‘Done’ criteria is not enough. A ‘Done’ criterion is not generated once, covered up in a document, and seen for a second time under no circumstances.  Teams are duty-bound to plan time in the course of Retrospective Sprint Meetings to examine their ‘Done’ criteria from time to time and decide whether there are prospects for enhancement or change.  Nevertheless, one must avoid doing this in every meeting. Too many reviews, too repeatedly, may generate suspicion about the legitimacy of the current set of ‘Done’ criteria in the eyes of all the stakeholders. Scrum masters should remember that ‘Done’ Criteria arise from various perspectives, the most common being technical and functional. User stories and trials illustrate ‘Done’ criteria from a technical viewpoint. On the other hand, functional ‘Done’ criteria are also vital. They can take account of matters such as whether the User story has passed its Acceptance Criteria. It serves as a reminder of what it means for the team to be ‘Done’ and acts as a powerful communication tool. A ‘Done’ criterion adds value, and it communicates the value to stakeholders. When stakeholders question, “Are you ‘Done’ yet?” the team can point toward the ‘Done’ criteria and respond clearly where the team is at. Through the ‘Done’ criteria, and through their communication and content refinement, all stakeholders can clearly know that if the team says the product is ‘shippable’, each of its features has met a sequence of necessary criteria that is obligatory for such an action. When anyone in the Scrum team says ‘Done’, it will mean precisely what is put out in the ‘Done’ criteria.


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