Definition of Ready (DoR) in Agile

December 12, 2013


In Agile Scenario, definition of done (DoD) is very popular, but here we will also look at another important definition related to User Stories: definition of Ready (DoR). These two definitions form the basis of Sprint Principle:

Never pull anything into a Sprint that is not Ready. And never let anything out of the Sprint that is not Done

In simple terms, a user story needs to meet some criteria before it can be used in a sprint. Hence, Definition of Ready for a user story is when a user story is well defined; when testers have defined its user story acceptance criteria; all the dependencies are known; proper sizing or re-sizing has been done if required; the user artefacts have been accepted by the delivery team; delivery team has approved the user story; the clients have approved the user story; and finally the delivery team has a good idea of how the demo of the user story would be.

Definition of Ready is important so that everyone in the team is aware when to pull a user story in which sprint. Practically, the user story need not be 100% defined with all User Acceptance criteria fulfilled. What is most important is that it needs to be “ready enough” so that the team is confident of its successful delivery.

Similarly, Definition of Ready for an iteration is when the iteration backlog has  been prioritised based on importance of user stories; all the defects and bugs are logged in; other work like Lab setup, environment maintainence, supporting other projects etc are taken care of; utilization of resources is known by all; all the user stories of this iteration meet the definition of ready; and all the user stories involved in previous iteration meet the definition of Done (or included in this iteration with all the bugs known)

Consequences of “not being ready”:

  • Teams estimate vague and incomplete stories
  • Time and effort is wasted to get clarity on what the story means
  • One vague user story turns out to be 4-5 actual user stories once the work actually begins. This leads to rework by Business Analysts, Testers etc. all concerned

In conclusion, Definition of Ready is as important to improve productivity in the team as Definition of Done. Done properly, it saves a lot of time and effort of the team, and focus is only on doing the right thing the right way.


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