Definition of Done (DoD) in Agile Development: A Comprehensive Guide

  • Agile and Scrum
  • Project Management
Created on :
February 1, 2023
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
October 26, 2023

Agile development has gained widespread popularity in the software development industry. This way of working focuses on delivering high-quality products in short iterations, allowing teams to respond quickly to changes and deliver value to customers in a timely manner. One of the critical elements of agile development is the Definition of Done (DoD). In this article, we’ll explore what DoD is, why it’s important, and how it can be used to improve the overall quality of your work.

What is Definition of Done?

The Definition of Done (DoD) is a set of guidelines that outline what is considered as “completed work” when a product increment is declared “releasable”. The main objective of DoD is to avoid any misinterpretation between the development team and stakeholders. For instance, as a product owner or business stakeholder, you may ask the development team if they have developed a particular feature, only to find out later that there are still several things that need to be done before that feature can be consumed. This kind of miscommunication creates ambiguity in the process and stakeholder interaction.

Therefore, when we declare a “releasable increment”, all stakeholders must understand what is included in that increment. The definition of done acts as a guideline, ensuring transparency in the planning process. It helps to ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken before declaring a product backlog item as complete.

Why is DoD Important?

The Definition of Done is an essential part of agile development. It helps to ensure that each product backlog item meets both intrinsic and extrinsic quality requirements. Intrinsic quality refers to those that are visible from an internal perspective, while extrinsic quality refers to those that are visible from an external perspective.

For example, consider a scenario where you order a burger and coffee at a restaurant. Your acceptance criteria might be that the burger should be without cheese, while the definition of done might be that the items should be available at your table with proper accessories like tissues. The DoD provides clarity on the complete process that needs to be followed, from the kitchen to the table, in order to complete the order.

By having a clear definition of done, teams can ensure that they are delivering high-quality products that meet the needs of the business and stakeholders. The DoD provides a comprehensive guide for the project team and stakeholders and helps to set expectations for what needs to be done in order to declare something complete.

It’s important to note that DoD evolves as the product matures and stakeholders’ acceptance evolves. The definition of done helps in reaching a releasable product increment that satisfies the end-customers and stakeholders.

Components of DoD

The definition of done may include the following steps:

  • Coding must be completed
  • Integration of the product backlog item must be done
  • The product increment must be deployed for stakeholders to use
  • It should not have severe defects
  • All bugs must be fixed
  • Acceptance criteria associated with the product backlog item must be met

It’s important to keep the DoD simple and concise. The more detailed and lengthy it is, the more difficult it will be to implement and enforce.

The Relationship between DoD, Definition of Ready, and Acceptance Criteria

In the sprint planning meeting, the development team selects product backlog items that they believe can be converted into a potentially releasable product increment. However, many times, the product backlog item may have a lot of ambiguity, and the development team may discover several unknowns once they start working on it, making it difficult to achieve the sprint goals.

To mitigate this issue, some scrum teams come up with a “Definition of Ready” (DoR). The DoR communicates to the product owners and stakeholders that if a product backlog item is to be allocated and prioritized for the upcoming sprint, it should be detailed enough for the development team to commit to it comfortably. The definition of ready may include criteria such as size, acceptance criteria, and testability of the product backlog item.

It’s important to note that the DoD and acceptance criteria complement each other, as both are necessary for determining the completion of a product backlog item. The DoD provides a more comprehensive view of the overall process and the specific steps required to complete an item, while acceptance criteria focus on the specific requirements from a business perspective.

In Conclusion,The Definition of Done is a critical component of Agile project management that helps to ensure the completeness of a given iteration or product backlog item. It provides a comprehensive guide for the project team and stakeholders and helps to set expectations for what needs to be done in order to declare something complete.

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