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Definition of Done (DoD): Why & How To Use It In Agile Project

06th May, 2024
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    Definition of Done (DoD): Why & How To Use It In Agile Project

    The definition of Done (DoD) is the collection of deliverables like writing codes, coding comments, testing of units, integration testing, design documents, release notes etc that add verifiable and demonstrable values to project development. DoD helps the Scrum team to identify all the valuable deliverables needed to complete the Agile project successfully and on the time. Although ‘Definition of Done’ is the fundamental element of Scrum methodology; yet, a number of Agile-Scrum teams neglect its importance. The blog post spills the beans on ‘why & how to use DoD in Agile project’. 

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    What is the Definition of DoD in Agile?

    The definition of done (DoD) is a criterion one must meet before a product or feature is considered complete. The purpose of the DoD is to ensure that all team members are on the same page regarding project completion. It helps teams avoid misunderstandings and ensures they work towards the same goal. 

    The DoD list includes items like: 

    • All tests have been executed successfully by the QA team. 

    • Appropriate documentation has been written for any new features or changes made. 

    • At least two developers have reviewed the code from different teams/projects. 

    • All defects reported by QA have been fixed by developers or management (if applicable). 

    • Any bugs reported by users have been fixed by developers or management (if applicable). 

    Checklist for Done

    1. Code is Peer-Reviewed  

    A peer review is a form of inspection at the end of the development process. It occurs when another developer or team of developers reviews code written by one or more developers. The goal of peer review is to ensure that the code meets specifications and complies with best practices and standards. 

    2. Code is Checked in 

    In software development, checking in refers to a process where changes made to a source code file are added to the version control system as permanent records. Once checked in, changes cannot be reverted without reverting the entire working copy of source code files. 

    3. Code is Deployed to the Test Environment 

    Deployment to the test environment means that the code is ready for testing and that developers can run tests against it. It ensures that developers have a stable code base when ready to deploy the application to production. 

    4. Feature Passes Regression Testing 

    Regression testing ensures that new features don't break existing functionality. It's important because if you're adding something new, you need to make sure it doesn't interfere with anything else in your system. If you don't do this, you'll end up with bugs in your application that could cause issues.  

    5. Feature Passes Smoke Testing 

    Smoke testing is done before a feature goes into production. It looks at how well the system works and identifies potential issues before they become widespread across all users. 

    6. The Code is Documented 

    It means that the codebase has clear, concise comments, and all relevant information about the code is stored in a system that other developers can access on the team. 

    7. Help Documentation is Updated  

    It includes anything from the documentation on how to use a feature to documentation on fixing bugs in the product. If you change one part of the code that impacts its functionality or behavior, that change needs to be documented in the help documentation. It ensures that users have the most up-to-date information about using your software product effectively. 

    8. Stakeholders Approve the Feature 

    Finally, before marking something as completed or under the definition of done, it needs to be approved by stakeholders at all levels—including executives within an organization and outside clients/customers who are funding projects. 

    Why use DoD in Scrum Project

    • DoD Helps To Get Feedback For Improvement: 

    One way to incorporate feedback into your DoD is by using "what-if" scenarios. These hypothetical situations test the limits of what can be done in your project, and they're great because they help you identify potential problems before they happen. Another type of feedback loop is a retrospective review: this involves taking time every so often to look back at what has been accomplished and analyze any issues or successes that have occurred along the way. The well-defined steps like sprint demo, acceptance testing, functional testing etc generate the time feedback from the product owner. The more detailed Definition of Done helps you get more feedback. 

    Finally, there are multiple ways to incorporate customer input into your DoD process—such as through surveys or focus groups where customers share their thoughts on particular aspects of a project's development stage or product launch plan (e.g., pricing strategy). You can also use a user story card wall to gather and prioritize requirements or use a prototype to show how your design will work, then get feedback on it. 

    • Definition Of Done (DoD) Improves Planning To Release:

    At the end of sprints, numbers of processes or tasks are found incomplete at one stage or the other; gradually, the undone work piles up to retard the Agile project’s progress.  The application of DoD helps to complete all the undone work within the particular sprints; thus, saves valuable time because you do not need to release sprints.

    The first step in using a Definition of Done is to create a checklist for each feature or story. It will help you to ensure that features are delivered as expected and that they have been tested, documented, and deployed correctly. The next step is to create an automated test suite for your application. It can be done using tools like Selenium or Selenium Grid. The automated tests are then run before deployment to verify that all features have been successfully implemented. 

    Finally, you should create a deployment pipeline for your application using tools like Jenkins or CircleCI. When code is pushed to GitHub, it automatically goes through all testing and deployment stages before being deployed into production. 

    • Definition Of Done Elaborates Burn-Down Charts In True Colors: 

    If DoD is not applied, the Agile burn-down chart, the graphical representation of work still to be done, often presents a false image of ‘when the software will be production ready’ because it doesn’t account for the undone work accurately at sprints. As a result, the undone work piles up in a hidden way while the burn-down chart shows the reduction in remaining work. The burn-down charts created with the DoD application present a real picture of the work done in complete.

    • Definition Of Done Minimizes The Delay Of Risk:

    ‘Definition of Done’ helps you minimize the delay possibility because the defined steps in DoD generate on time feedback guiding you to manage all the identified risky items by inspection, adaptation and improvement at an early stage. 

    • DoD Reflects The Agility, Maturity & Quality of Scrum Team:

    The efficient Scrum team is expected to complete a new feature in a single sprint and to release it at the earliest with a guarantee of being the best. DoD reflects the agility, perfection, and maturity of the Scrum team by exhibiting that it releases new features in every sprint.

    • Visualize the Status of Projects Over Time:

    Scrum is a framework for executing projects and managing teams. It's based on a set of principles that help guide your team through each phase of the project: from planning to development, deployment, and maintenance.  

    The biggest advantage of Scrum is its focus on cross-functional teams—rather than having separate departments with their own goals and objectives, Scrum encourages collaboration between different groups on the same team so they can work together towards a common goal. Another common way to visualize this information is with a Kanban board. A Kanban board shows all of your projects in columns, with each column representing a stage in the development process (e.g., backlog, in-progress, testing).  

    You can color code each column based on what's going on at any given time to easily see where bottlenecks are occurring and how long they've been there. In addition to Kanban boards, plenty of other tools are available for tracking projects' progress over time. Some popular examples include JIRA (a software tool) and Trello (a web app). 

    • Reflects the Quality of Agile Project

    The Definition of Done (DoD) is a key component of an agile project. It reflects the project's quality and helps ensure that the end result is what you want. 

    The DoD is also one of the three pillars of agility.  

    1. The first pillar is responding to change quickly and effectively; this is accomplished by establishing a high-performing team with well-defined roles, responsibilities, and skill sets.  

    1. The second pillar is frequent delivery; this allows for continuous product improvement by providing stakeholders with frequent feedback on progress and results.  

    1. The third pillar is a continuous learning; this involves improving your organization through reflection on past experiences and identifying areas where improvements can be made to increase efficiency or effectiveness in future projects. 

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    How to Use DOD in Scrum:

    1.Make DOD Essential:
    To complete the project on the time, make it essential to follow DoD in each sprint review. Walk through DoD for each PBI (product backlog item) to make it “front & centre” for the team members and stakeholders; it will establish perfect understanding with mutual trust between the project development team, product owner and other stakeholders.

    2.DoD Checklist:
    Use DoD as a checklist for each PBI. Only after going through the complete checklist up to the satisfaction, proceed for the next step.  

    3.Make DoD the Tasks Oriented: 
    Create a specific task for each DoD element to ensure that you are more focused on DoD items.  Tasks are easier to manage by managing the expanded DoD checklist. 

    4.Involve PO to Review DoD at Mid-Sprint: 
    Develop the culture of showing PBI to PO during mid-sprints. It facilitates PO to know about DoD status. 

    5.Apply  DoD with Retrospective Approach: 
    Always be ready to improve, and explore the possibility to make the processes more robust. Ask other Scrum teams for innovative concepts that helped them; and, explore the suitability of shared tips in the line of your project. 


    The major reason to adapt anti-DoD pattern is lack of awareness about the importance of DoD. 
    In most cases, whenever DoD is neglected, it bites the project’ progress & quality. Agile and Scrum training helps the project team members to understand the importance of DoD and the strategies to apply it. Therefore, do not take chances, and, use ‘Definition of Done’ as a Scrum tool for improving quality, minimizing delay possibility and building trust with all the stakeholders.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the definition of Done used for in Agile?

    The definition of Done is an agreement between the product owner, scrum master, and the development team on what needs to be done to consider a user story or task complete. It can include testing, documentation, integration with other system parts, and so on. 

    2Why do we use DoD in agile?

    We use DoD in agile because it helps us to manage the risk of change. The idea of using DoD in agile is to put teams into a state where they are ready to make changes quickly but also can test those changes. 

    3What is the importance of done?

    Done means the work is complete, and all that's left for you to do is review. It's important because it sets a standard for the quality of your work and lets you know when you should start focusing on another project. 


    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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